Annual sugar consumption in India is estimated to reach 33 million tonnes by 2030. In the context of food security (a strategically important sector), this places India at a strong position. This is also because India is the world’s second largest producer of sugar.

Sugarcane yields go through a cycle of low and sufficient production depending on how many farmers choose to cultivate the crop. This choice is a function of several variables including likely procurement prices, weather, choosing another crop that may provide better purchase price etc. Concentrated rainfall i.e. monsoon is insufficient to meet crop water requirement and adds to the complexity of cultivating sugarcane. This is because 93 per cent of sugarcane area is irrigated by surface and groundwater resources.

UP suffers from low yield despite having the largest acreage under sugarcane production. This in turn, affects farmers’ incomes.

‘Meetha Sona Unnati’ –a joint program by Solidaridad, DCM Shriram and International Finance Corporation is an initiative launched in Uttar Pradesh that focuses on enhancing productivity in sugarcane cultivation, besides improving soil health and creating a sustainable ecosystem, by promoting effective on-farm mechanisation. Through this project, the Company aims to reach out to 48,000 farmers.

The project has yielded great results like improvement in the farmers’ yields in the areas the project has focused on. The project has also helped us build our marketing footprint in the recent years. ‘Meetha Sona’has effectively helped farmers tackle low water availability and degrading soil health with the goal of consistently boosting productivity.

‘Meetha Sona’ has increased the productivity of farmers by 25 per cent on average in the last 3 years over an area of 50,000 hectares, according to DCM Shriram Deputy Managing Director Ajit S Shriram.

In the coming years, the project volunteers will strive to meet the following objectives:

Empower Small Landholders: Address key requirements of small landholders for sustainable sugarcane cultivation

Integrate Good Practices: Implement modern agricultural practices through on-farm efficient water usage and reduction in the use of chemical pesticides, fertilisers and mechanisation

Capacity Building, Livelihood and Entrepreneurship: Provide farmer training on good agriculture practices leading to capacity building, increased income and employment generation

Build Support Structures: Tie up with Agriculture Technical Service Providers (ATSPs), enhance mill management systems and strengthen extension services to accelerate digitisation and adoption of sustainable production standards

Coca-Cola is looking to protect the land rights of farmers in one of the world’s top sugarcane-producing regions, by staying true to its commitments towards the farmer community.