18th December, 2012, Coimbatore
The Valedictory function of Sugarcane Breeding Institute’s Centenary Celebrations was held on 18.12.2012 at Coimbatore. Dr. S. Ayyappan, Secretary, DARE and Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research was the chief guest. Dr.K.Ramasamy, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Dr.G.James Pitchai, Vice-Chancellor, Bharathiar University, Coimbator Dr.S.Nagarajan, Former Chairman, PPV&FRA(GoI) and Dr.N.Gopalakrishnan, ADG (Crop Science), ICAR participated in the function.
Dr.S.Ayyappan,Secretary, DARE and Director General, ICAR, in his address as Chief Guest mentioned that SBI is the pride of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. The Institute has maintained the high standards set by its founders Dr Barber and Sir TS Venkatraman, over the past 10 decades. He complemented the Institute in its fine achievements in sugarcane varietal development and for maintaining the leadership in terms of improved varieties in the country. He mentioned that several Asian, African and Caribbean countries have expressed their strong desire to have collaboration with SBI in view of its technical expertise in sugarcane research. Describing the objectives of the recent ICAR initiative, AgrInnovate , Dr Ayyappan suggested that SBI’s technical expertise can be utilized through AgrInnovate, for providing consultancy to these overseas countries to help develop sugarcane agriculture. Referring to the growing need for sugar and ethanol in the country, he suggested that the sugarcane productivity in the country should be increased from the current 70 t /ha to 100 t/ha to achieve the production targets of 2030. He promised the Institute additional grants in the XII plan for improving infrastructure facilities.
Dr. N. V. Nair, Director of the Institute in his Introductory address, outlined the history and achievements of the Institute. The Institute was started in 1912 by the then British Government with Dr. C.A. Barber as the Government Sugarcane Expert. The Institute was located at Coimbatore in view of the good flowering and seed set of sugarcane at Coimbatore which is essential for sugarcane breeding. The Institute came under the Food and Agriculture Ministry in 1950 and later under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in 1969. The first variety Co 205 was released from the Institute in 1918 and it recorded over 50% improvement in cane yield over the native varieties and replaced them in a matter of 6-8 years. This marked the green revolution in sugarcane. Thereafter several Co varieties were produced by the Institute for cultivation in the country. By 1935 the spread of Co varieties developed by the Institute reached 76% improving the average sugarcane productivity from 11 tonnes per hectare to 37 tons per hectare. At present the productivity is around 70 tonnes per hectare, which is largely attributable to the improved varieties developed by the Institute. At present the most popular variety in the country is Co 86032 grown from Tamil Nadu to Gujarat. Co varieties were popular in other countries as well. At one point of time over 30 countries were growing Co varieties and even today sugar industries in many Asian and African countries are sustained by Co varieties. The Institute employs conventional and modern molecular methods at present to develop improved sugarcane varieties. The Institute was the first to develop sugarcane transgenics in the country. Institute also conducts research on all aspects of sugarcane crop production and crop protection. Advanced techniques like tissue culture, molecular breeding, molecular diagnostics, genomics and proteomic analysis, remote sensing etc. are being used to resolve various problems in the crop. The demand for sugar is increasing and by 1930 the requirement will be 36 million tonnes which is a steep increase by 50%. Institute is developing technologies to meet this target. The Institute is also developing energy canes as a source for fuel and ethanol.
Dr.N.Gopalakrishnan, Assistant Director General (CS), ICAR in his Special address, appreciated the ongoing work at the Institute and stressed the need for strong linkages with the farming community and sugar industry for efficient spread of technologies.
Dr.G.James Pitchai, Vice Chancellor of Bharathiyar University, Coimbatore in his Special address highlighted the importance of the event as SBI has served the nation for 100 years and contributed to the enhancement of sugarcane production. SBI as an academic Institution has a long standing relationship with Bharathiar University and has produced several Ph Ds during the past two decades.
Delivering the Keynote address Dr.K.Ramasamy, Vice Chancellor, TNAU, suggested that nutritional aspects also have to be taken care of while developing new varieties. While the soluble sugars in sugarcane are utilized for sugar production, the insoluble materials should form feedstock for ethanol production. He suggested that the Institute should identify lacuna in research and plan for the future. He also stressed the need for developing farmer friendly technologies. He solicited the support of the sugar industry in sugarcane research since they are major beneficiaries of research.
The DG, ICAR also presented the Sir T.S. Venkatraman Awards to the best sugarcane researcher and the best Ph D thesis in sugarcane. He released 16 publications of the Institute and honored the former and present employees of the Institute.
(Source: Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore)