The Sweet Taste of Success: IFC Supports India's Rural Sugarcane Farmers
June 28, 2012 --- Sugarcane farmers in India’s low-income state of Uttar Pradesh are seeing an increase in their sugarcane productivity thanks to the agribusiness advisory project by IFC named Meetha Sona, or sweet gold.
In India, more than 50 million farmers depend on sugarcane cultivation for their livelihood. While some states in India have a high farm yield of more than 100 tons per hectare, farmers in Uttar Pradesh produce only around 50-55 tons per hectare on average, resulting in lower incomes from sugarcane cultivation.
One such sugarcane farmer is Rashid Khan who struggled to increase his yield. “Meetha Sona has taught me the importance of timely application of input," he said. "As a result, the yield of my sugarcane crop has jumped from 45 tons to 75 tons. I hope that my yield will cross 100 tons in the near future.”
IFC is working with DCM Shriram Consolidated Limited (DSCL), an investment client, and has created a model for replication for the sugar sector in India. The project supports IFC’s South Asia strategy of inclusive economic growth by promoting economic activities at the base of the pyramid. It also strengthens IFC’s footprint in one of India’s low income states.
“As long as we can make this one hectare smallholder profitable, we can make inclusive growth much more impactful than earlier,” said Anil Sinha, Head, Advisory Services, IFC.
Sustainability through Knowledge Transfer
Working on a systematic approach, IFC brought in expertise to develop a package of practices based on the crop’s specific agro-climatic needs. IFC trained the company’s extension workers, who further helped the farmers in seed management, soil improvement, water usage, planting techniques, monitoring, and reporting. These practices were incorporated into a manual for training the DSCL extension workers and an easy reference pictorial flipchart for farmers.
Measuring the Results
While the project was aimed at productivity improvement, IFC and DSCL invested in a strong monitoring and evaluation system for quasi-experimental evaluation. In the first year of the project, trained farmers saw a productivity increase of 23 percent, while the farmers who did not receive any training had a productivity decrease of 11 percent. In the second year, preliminary results show that trained farmers had a productivity increase of 86 percent from the baseline levels, while the farmers in the control group recorded an increase of 19 percent.
So far, IFC-DSCL has trained 2000 farmers, and have expanded the project to cover over 12,000 farmers. Thereafter, DSCL will cascade the project to reach out to over 150,000 farmers in its value chain. IFC will now share the lessons from the project with the sugar industry, the sugar manufacturers association, sugarcane research institutions and the government, in India and the South Asia region.