The sugarcane industry has experienced a very rapid transition over the last forty years with sugarcane now ranking between the ten most planted crops all over the world and accounting for about 80% of the world’s sugar production.
As stated by OECD-FAO, over the next 10 years, 83% of the global increase in sugar output is projected to originate in developing countries, where major changes in global production are expected in India (+20%), followed by China (+11%), Brazil (+11%), Thailand (+9%) and the European Union (+5%). Growth in world sugar production is expected to slow to 1.5% p.a. over the projection period compared to 2.0% p.a. in the previous decade. But most of the production increases are expected to occur in developing countries which will represent 77% of global sugar production in 2027 (compared to 76% during the base period).
Recognising that the only way to increase production is through close collaboration of all major sugarcane stakeholders, Case IH recently organised the 2019 South East Asia Sugarcane Summit in Thailand where sugarcane growers, millers and other industry representatives from throughout the world gathered together for the first major initiative of this type in South East Asia.
The Summit brought together over 130 sugarcane professionals to discuss innovation, sustainability and profitability in the sugarcane industry. The event was also the occasion to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Case IH Austoft® sugarcane harvester marking a significant milestone and a proud moment for the Case IH brand.
The demand for sugar-producing crops can be attributed to the increased consumption of sugar in human diets and the value-added processes performed on the by-products of the crop such as bagasse, molasses and ethanol.
In this process of growth around the world, Case IH wants to be on the side of sugarcane growers and millers, not only supplying highly advanced machinery but also leading the field with sugarcane harvesting technology, promoting sustainable practises, excellent cane quality and ultra-clean samples.
During the 2019 South East Asia Sugarcane Summit speakers from Australia, Brazil, China, Thailand and many other South East Asian countries addressed key subjects of high importance for the industry including how alternative farming practises can increase yield; best practices on water usage, optimisation of the sugarcane waste stream and improvement of the health of cane cutters; modern methods of planting sugarcane for South East Asia; the advantages of Case IH sugarcane harvesters; telematics systems and precision guidance with practical demonstration for guests; and the history of Austoft sugarcane harvester over the past 75 years.
Michele Monzio, Case IH Austoft Product Manager, Asia, Middle East and Africa, said: “With 75 years of expertise in the field, we have worked with growers and millers to develop our harvesting technology which has revolutionised sugarcane farming throughout the world”.
“Our Summit participants represented eight major markets in Asia, all of which have benefited from Austoft technology since at least 2009 when the Austoft 8000 Series was launched. To date over 750 Austoft sugarcane harvesters have been sold in South East Asia and China, and we are very proud to have such a good relationship with growers and millers.”
Ken Schmidt, Case IH Product Performance Manager – Austoft, said: “Since it was first manufactured in the early 1940s by the Toft brothers in south-east Queensland, Australia, this sugarcane harvester evolved into the high-tech, sleek-looking machine of today, while retaining the innovative edge that heralded the arrival of the machine 75 years ago.”
“Today, Austoft sugarcane harvesters cut around half a billion metric tonnes of sugarcane per year across the globe, from India and China to Sudan, Papua New Guinea and throughout South America, South East Asia and Australia.”
Mr. Schmidt has been working with the company since the 1970s, meeting sugarcane farmers around the world and witnessing many product developments during that time, which have been influenced by many external factors such as urbanisation, labour shortage, climate changing among the others.
On the impact of changing climate on the sugarcane industry, Robert Quirk, Bonsucro global ambassador and owner of a 106-hectare farm in Australia, explained how he has overcome significant issues with water in the last few years. Changing climactic conditions have brought fluctuating weather patterns to major sugarcane regions and the understanding that water is fast becoming a scare commodity has led to him installing efficient water and fertiliser application technology to all his sugarcane land. This investment in futureproofing the farm has already led to reduced costs and the ability to manage the whole farm single-handed for most of the season.
Jamie Finguerut, Director and Board member at ITC – Instituto de Tecnologia Canavieira, added that as sugarcane has the biological potential to yield over 330 tonnes per hectare, its use as a carbon store and source of green energy cannot be understated in the present world climate, where the reduction of fossil fuel emissions are key targets for governments across the world.
Case IH was proud to be the catalyst for such a great event that generated a lot of valuable discussion and, most crucially, relationships between stakeholders across the sector. With growers, millers and processors of sugar facing increased pressure from multiple directions, Case IH remains a strong and stable partner for every sugarcane farmer..