Sugarcane Breeding Institute launches CaneInfo website

Sugarcane Breeding Institute launched CaneInfo website, a database-driven website that delivers timely information on sugarcane to be accessed free of cost anywhere, anytime, by all those involved in sugarcane agriculture, on July 9, 2010. CaneInfo is the culmination of a two-year research project entitled, "Developing a user-centered website on sugarcane production technologies" sponsored by the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Ministry of Science & Technology, Govt. of India. Recognizing that only by bringing the user into the development process could the utility of the website be maximized, a series of Focus groups were conducted among the target audience, i.e., the farmers and cane development personnel to identify the users’ information needs. Developing a prototype with this information, it was demonstrated to the target audience for evaluation. All these efforts have culminated in the dynamic and demand driven website, CaneInfo available at http://caneinfo.nic.in.

Dr K. Jayakumar IAS., Joint Secretary, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, launched CaneInfo amidst farmers, cane development personnel and sugarcane scientists at Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore on 9.7.2010.

Launching the website, Dr. Jayakumar in his inaugural address said that the role of Government in socio-economic development is that of a facilitator. The actual work in agriculture development is through the efforts of scientists and farmers and the launch of this website, CaneInfo is the result of such an effort. Technology offered immense opportunities to farmers to know more about their areas of interest. Use of information and communication technology in the form of Web 2.0, Facebook, and video conferencing should be used to create Web communities of farmers, he added.

Appreciating the role of sugarcane farmers in the creation of the website, Dr. Jayakumar said: “Such participation will also aid in proficiency development of the farming community. Focus group discussions and collaboration with the research institutes like these are not available in many places. Farmers should make use of such facilities.”

Shri M. Manickam, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Sakthi Sugars Limited, who delivered the Keynote address, said the price of sugarcane had always been a bone of contention among the public. “It is essential to increase the income of sugarcane farmers without increasing the production costs and I hope that CaneInfo will help in this direction,” he said.

Dr. N. Vijayan Nair, Director, Sugarcane Breeding Institute, in his Presidential Address, said that CaneInfo website is a dynamic one and user-centric that reflected the technology development at the institute which provided a forum for farmers across the country to share their views. “It is different because it has been developed according to the needs of the farmers. In India, nearly 4.5 million hectares is under sugarcane cultivation next only to cotton. Growth in cane and sugar production in the past five decades had been very significant. This has been possible through the use of various technologies. Nevertheless, many farmers have opted out of sugarcane and moved on to more remunerative crops. Hence, it is necessary to reduce the cost of production and make it more profitable and also improve productivity with proper input management,” Dr. Nair said. Pointing out that the available technologies are quite competitive in terms of achieving high yields, Dr. Nair said technology has to reach the farmer in time for this to happen. The website is the best way to achieve this as this will work as a single point delivery system for the whole country. CaneInfo will provide timely and research-based information to the farmers and cane development personnel, he added.

Dr.D. Puthira Prathap, Senior Scientist & Principal Investigator of  CaneInfo demonstrated the navigation procedures of CaneInfo and explained the efforts that went into the conception, design and launch of the website. In the sidelines of the function, farmers were facilitated to register themselves to CaneInfo club, a special feature in the website.

(Source: Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore)