Experts urge farmers to cultivate sugar beet commercially

Agricultural experts have urged the farmers to cultivate tropical sugar beet commercially as it can be an effective substitute crop to sugarcane farming for increasing sugar production in Rajshahi region, reports BSS. 

They observed that prospect of commercial sugar beet farming in the region seems to be very bright which can contribute a lot in addressing the country’s sugar deficit.

They came up with the observation while addressing a farmers’ field day on a research and demonstration plot of sugarbeet at Rajshahi Sugar Mills compound here on Thursday.

Bangladesh Sugar Crop Research Institute (BSRI) organized the programme titled “Prospect of Tropical Sugarbeet Production in Bangladesh” aimed at disseminating idea and modern knowledge among the farmers on how to cultivate sugarbeet after the best uses of modern technologies. More than 60 farmers joined the programme.

Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture Komola Ranjan Das addressed the meeting as chief guest with BSRI Director General Dr Amzad Hossain in the chair.

BSRI Director (Research) Dr Samajit Kumar Pal, Deputy Director of Department of Agriculture Extension Shamsul Haque, Chief Scientific Officer of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute Dr Aminul Islam, General Manager (Agriculture) of Rajshahi Sugar Mills Musleh Uddin and Principal Scientific Officer of Fruit Research Station Dr Alim Uddin also spoke on the occasion.

Komola Ranjan Das said crop diversification process is being promoted widely to embrace high value and diversified crop varieties to ensure food security. Sugar beet can be one of the high valued crops as it can be used as raw material for the production of ethanol as bio-fuel.

Giving a salient feature of the crop Dr Amzad Hossain told the meeting that the existing sugar mills could produce a considerable amount of sugar from sugar beet by setting up some additional equipment including a diffuser plant.

The crop can be harvested twice a year, once from November to April and again from February to May. Besides, it can be cultivated in the intercropping method with other crops and vegetables, including sugarcane.

Referring to his research findings, Dr Samajit Pal says sugar beet takes 5-6 months for maturity, while sugarcane requires 12-14 months.

On the other hand, sugar recovery rate from sugar beet is 10-12 per cent, while the rate from sugarcane is 8-10 per cent.

He mentioned that about 88 to 133 tonnes of sugar beet of different varieties can be produced on a hectare of land. Side by side with winter vegetables, the tropical sugar beet can be a good example of sustainable agriculture, since it improves land use and helps water management.