This is perhaps the biggest news coming out of the trial farms of Punj. A’culture. Univ. After the green revolution came the white revolution and now comes the sugar revolution. Scientists working on neo-hybrid bio-technologies have managed to hybridize sugarcane with bamboos. Imagine, sugarcane of the size of bamboos. The yield of sugar bamboo is 1.3 tonnes per hectare as compared to a measly 0.15 tonnes of regular sugar per hectare. Being a fast growing variety, sugar bamboos can be harvested 3-4 times annually. There is no specific requirement of soil for these crops and they are not area specific also. They can grow with absolutely minimal water.
What does all this translate into????. It means…. good news. Sugar prices have the potential to come down at below Rs. 3.00 a kg. Low sugar prices can really turn around the economy. Thousands of products, using sugar or waste from its refining as a raw material, will become dirt cheap. There will be a host of other spin offs also.
The tremendous amount of bio mass generated by sugar bamboo crushing will be able to satisfy the ever hungry power generating thermal plants of Punjab, substituting coal in the process. There is tremendous potential for new thermal power generation plants and thus infra- structure development. Sugar mills will be able to satisfy their own power need from captive power plants run on bio waste. Electricity will become almost free.
Due to the high octane content of the ethanol produced from the molasses (octane 108), a suitable substitute of of aviation fuel would be available thereby making air travel dirt cheap.
There is good news for the liquor loving Punjabis too. The huge amount of molasses generated after refining sugar bamboo will see liquor prices spiralling to rock bottom depths. Liquor will flow like water in the 5 rivers of PUNJ…AAB. Dr. T. S. Mangat, Chief Agri. Scientist was kind enough to allow me a glimpse of the sugar bamboo plantation. He also gave me a sample of the bamboo sugar. There is a 10 times difference in the size of normal sugar and sugar bamboo.
There is, however, a small disadvantage of bamboo sugar. It can be a sure shot reason for causing Diabetes mellitus type 2, even if ingested in small amounts, because it is very very sweet. Extensive research is being carried out to modify sugar bamboo genetically to overcome this problem.