Sugarcane crop plays a vital role in our national economy and is next to cotton as a cash crop. It provides a big agro-industrial base and is an important contributor to he GNP. Millions of people are engaged in sugarcane production, industrial processing and trade.
Since independence, significant improvement has been made in cane production and processing. Cane production in Punjab has progressively increased in the last four decades from 6.96 million tones in 1954-55 to 32.29 million tones in 2008-09 showing an increase of 363 percent. Increase in cane production came with the expansion in sugar industry which provided a market stimulant. Against a small crushing unit (500 TCD *) in 1947, 46 sugar mills with 327100 TCD capacity are operating now which caused a shift in cane utilization. As against 99 percent consumption of cane for gur and khandsary and sugar in 1950, 80 percent cane is being utilized for white sugar production now.
Punjab contributes a major share in cane and sugar production in the country. Out of total cane production of 50.45 million tones and sugar production of 3.2 million tones in 2008-09, Punjab produced 64 percent for cane and white sugar. Cane yield has increased from 28 tonnes in 1950-60 to 48.50 tonnes per hectare in 2008-09. Yield improvement took place due to better varieties and improved production technology. Potential exists to double our yield but the yields have remained stagnant for the last two decades due to the reason that sugarcane crop has high requirement for irrigation water and fertilizer and is labour intensive for cultivation operations. The supply of required inputs has not gone hand in hand with the expansion in area under sugarcane.
Sugarcane research in Punjab was first initiated during the year 1911 and “Katha” cane was replaced by hybrid varieties Co-205, Co-312 & Co-285. The
* Tonnes crushing daily.
Sugarcane Research Station was established at Lyallpur (Faisalabad) in 1934. Sugarcane Research became permanent feature of Agriculture Department in 1949 under the Punjab Agriculture College, Lyallpur (Faisalabad). In 1962, Sugarcane Section became component of Ayub Agricultural Research Institute, Faisalabad. Sugarcane Section was upgraded as Sugarcane Research Institute, Faisalabad in 1978. Thenceforth, the institute is striving for self-sufficiency.