Enhancing technical efficiency of sugar industry
Appreciating the key role of the sugar industry in economic development of the country and considering the field as investment and production intensive, TIFAC undertook several studies in 1989 reaching out about 400 sugar factories across the country. The status of sugar industry then and the technological gaps among other things assessed under the study, were captured in a comprehensive report ‘Sugar cane cultivation and sugar production technologies: Prospects till 2001 AD’ published in 1991.
Based on the findings of the studies, the Govt. of India approved the Sugar Technology Mission (STM) as a joint initiative of Department of Sugar & Edible Oils Department of Science & Technology in 1993. This possibly is the first example of a socio-economic ministry directly interacting with a scientific ministry for the purpose of improvement in technical efficiency of a large sugar industry. With eyes on modernization of sugar industry at an accelerated pace through technology intermediation, the Government assigned the responsibility of implementation to TIFAC. Part of the funds was assured by Government and the balance was raised by the beneficiary sugar plants and entrepreneurs.
The Mission which started functioning in 1994, aimed at reducing the cost of production of sugar and improving sugar quality through steps for improvements in productivity, energy conservation and improvements in capital output ratio. The process involved identification of suitable technologies, entrepreneurs and sugar factories for evaluation of technologies through implementation of technology projects. Mission worked on its mandate by technological upgradation of sugar factories by way of introducing new technologies through horizontal technology transfer, technology adaptation and scale-up of bench-level emerging technologies.
In its operations spread over more than a decade, STM prepared detailed schemes recommending use of proven cost-effective state-of-the-art technologies for over 40 sugar factories. The idea was to provide sufficiently large system-level demonstration such that the model could be emulated by other factories in the region, resulting in a multiplier-effect.
STM also rendered financial and techno- managerial support for evaluation and trials of over 20 new technologies. This technological intervention benefited the sugar industry in terms of improved sugar recovery, energy saving and improved sugar quality. The Mission also served as an interface between industry and knowledge institutions, provided advisory inputs, reviewed human resource development for sugar industry and evaluated performance of plants etc.