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Home  > Introduction
Introduction

Sugarcane, Saccharum officinarum L., an old energy source for human beings and, more recently, a replacement of fossil fuel for motor vehicles, was first grown in South East Asia and Western India. Around 327 B.C. it was an important crop in the Indian sub-continent. It was introduced to Egypt around 647 A.D. and, about one century later, to Spain (755 A.D.).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Global Distribution of Sugarcane (Click to Enlarge)

 

Since then, the cultivation of sugarcane was extended to nearly all tropical and sub-tropical regions. Portuguese and Spaniards took it to the New World early in the XVI century. It was introduced to the United States of America (Louisiana) around 1741.

 

Botanically, sugarcane belongs to the Andropogonae tribe of the family Gramineae, order Glumiflorae, class Monocotyledoneae, subdivision Angiospermae, division Embryophita siphonogama. The subtribe is Sacharae and the genus, of course, Saccharum, derived from the Sanskrit "sarkara = white sugar", a reminder that the plant reached the Mediterranean region from India.

 

Sugarcane growing countries of the world lay between the latitude 36.7° north and 31.0° south of the equator extending from tropical to subtropical zones. This map depicts the distribution of sugarcane in the world.

  

Worldwide sugarcane occupies an area of 20.42 million ha with a total production of 1333 million metric tons (FAO, 2003). Sugarcane area and productivity differ widely from country to country (Table 1). Brazil has the highest area (5.343 million ha), while Australia has the highest productivity (85.1 tons/ha). Out of 121 sugarcane producing countries, fifteen countries (Brazil, India, China, Thailand, Pakistan, Mexico, Cuba, Columbia, Australia, USA, Philippines, South Africa, Argentina, Myanmar, Bangladesh) present 86% of the area and 87% of production (Table 1). Out of the total white crystal sugar production, approximately 70% comes from sugarcane and 30% from sugar beet.

 

Table 1. Sugarcane In The world: Area, Production And Productivity

 

Country

Area

(million ha)

Production (million tons)

Productivity

(Tons/ha)

Brazil

5.343

386.2

72.3

India

4.608

289.6

62.8

China

1.328

92.3

65.5

Thailand

0.970

64.4

66.4

Pakistan

1.086

52.0

47.9

Mexico

0.639

45.1

70.6

Colombia

0.435

36.6

84.1

Australia

0.423

36.0

85.1

USA

0.404

31.3

77.5

Philippines

0.385

25.8

67.1

Indonesia

0.350

25.6

73.1

Cuba

0.654

22.9

35.0

South Africa

0.325

20.6

63.4

Argentina

0.295

19.2

65.2

Myanmar

0.165

7.5

45.4

Bangladesh

0.166

6.8

41.2

WORLD

20.42

1333.2

65.2

 

Sugarcane is a renewable, natural agricultural resource because it provides sugar, besides biofuel, fibre, fertilizer and myriad of by products/co-products with ecological sustainability.

 

Sugarcane juice is used for making white sugar, brown sugar (Khandsari), Jaggery (Gur) and ethanol. The main byproducts of sugar industry are bagasse and molasses.

 

Molasses, the chief by-product, is the main raw material for alcohol and thus for alcohol-based industries. Excess bagasse is now being used as raw material in the paper industry. Besides, co-generation of power using bagasse as fuel is considered feasible in most sugar mills.


 

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