Knowledge for Development

Relevant publications

Sugar cane industry: environmental threats, prospects for bioeconomy

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) senior research fellow Francis Johnson talks to Engineering News about the contrasting management practices of the sugar cane industry in developing countries. Most countries with sugar cane farms face similar environmental problems: water shortage, nutrient run-off, biodiversity loss, chemical leach, air pollution, and so on.  Johnson argues that the ways countries draft and enforce legislation associated with the growing of sugar cane will decide upon the sustainability of the industry. In South Africa for example, the widespread practice of burning sugar cane prior to harvest causes air pollution and loss of biomass (cane trash) while post-harvest cane residues could otherwise be burned to generate electricity and heat. In the much smaller country Mauritius however, the adoption of modern cane farming practices and standards have helped mitigate negative environmental impacts of the industry.  Ideas for public-private partnerships to improve the industry abound and most are self-evident: grow sugar cane where the land naturally allows it, help the industry attain standards, enable reporting and enforcement, associate liability for environmental damage, develop and market by-products with added value, etc.  (Engineering News via SIANI, 28/03/2014)


Sugarcane-Based Bioethanol – Energy for Sustainable Development

From a variety of perspectives, this work presents the characteristics of sugarcane-based biofuel and the agribusiness that surrounds it; particular emphasis is made on the Brazilian experience and, in some cases, comparisons are made with other bioenergy technologies. The book is divided into nine chapters and is aimed at Brazilians and readers from other countries who are interested in bioethanol and bioenergy.


Implications of alternative mill mud management options in the Australian sugar industry

Sugar mills produce a range of by-products during the process of sugar extraction. Mill mud is one of the by-products produced in significant volume. The practice of spreading mill mud over nearby cane fields has been the primary means of disposing of mill mud for many years. The continued application of mill mud at high rates, without appropriate recognition of its nutrient content, the soil condition, crop nutrient requirements, slope and proximity of application sites to environmentally sensitive areas has raised a number of concerns in recent years, including over-fertilization, heavy metal contamination, leaching, and offsite impacts from drainage to waterways. This study (presented at the 2002 conference of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society) develops a regional mathematical programming model to determine optimal rates of mill mud application for various soil types and distances from the mill in central Queensland, Australia.


From a sugarcane monoculture to a diversified farming system - Transforming the land

The gradual and difficult transformation of a sugar cane monoculture farm to an integrated and diversified farming system is described, using the case of a small family farm in the Philippine province of Negros Occidental. In 1984 the Oray family decided to change their farming practices to achieve food security for the family, to improve control of the entire production process, and to make optimal use of the natural resources available to them by nutrient cycling. The transformation involved conversion of intensively farmed sugar cane land to rice, land levelling to improve water management, direct marketing to neighbours to avoid middlemen, planting maize and vegetables for home consumption, keeping a few livestock such as a sow, some piglets, and chickens, raising a water buffalo for animal traction, extension of the farm from an initial 1.3 ha to 3.5 ha, the introduction of crop rotations based on leguminous crops such as groundnut, soybean, mung bean, and cowpea, farm forestry, the adoption of biological pest management strategies to control snail damage in rice by planting taro and dispersing rice hulls, using cassava as a catch crop to keep rats away from rice seedlings. These and other changes have made it possible for the family to meet their needs and have made life less risky than it used to be. 


New use for panela

Production, marketing and quality control aspects of non-centrifugal sugar in Colombia are described. Non-centrifugal sugar is known as panela in Latin America. About 70 000 sugar cane farmers on the slopes of the Colombian Andes make a living out of producing panela. Recently, the cheaper panela has lost marketing share to refined sugar, especially in cities. A new product was developed, called "panela pulverizada" (PP; granulated panela), with a view to improving the marketing prospects of panela. Unlike the traditional product, PP does not need to be broken up into smaller pieces before use. Furthermore, it is more nutritious, and it makes a tasty lemonade. The following steps were added for the production of PP: (1) addition of clarifying agents; (2) crystallization; (3) sun-drying; and (4) sieving. Various simple aids to improve the food hygiene situation were also introduced. The equipment needed is the same as that used in traditional panela production. As part of a PP project, workshops to train farmers in better marketing techniques and to teach rural women new uses for PP were set up. Applications for PP include: jam, canned fruits, drinks, porridges, sweets, cakes and biscuits. In Food Chain (UK),  no. 25, p. 11-13


Research and development on the process and apparatus of specialty sugar in TSC

The development and production of specialty sugar products by the Taiwan Sugar Corporation (TSC) since 1980 are reviewed. The 3 main products are rock sugar, liquid sugar and co-crystallization sugar. The quality of TSC rock sugar is the highest available on the market and the supply is still unable to meet demand. Co-crystallization sugar has the advantage of easy processing and dissolving. Products derived from cane molasses were also developed, but the unavailability of suitable aseptic packaging hinders market introduction. From author's summary. In Taiwan Sugar (Taiwan), v. 48(2) p. 4-9


Biotechnology development at products developing department of Taiwan Sugar Corporation

An overview of health-care products, health foods and biotechnology developments at the Products Developing Department of the Taiwan Sugar Corporation is provided. Products include: (1) Cordyceps sinensis mycelia; (2) Ling Zhi; (3) fructo-oligosaccharides; (4) lactobacillus products; (5) honey-bee products; (6) evening primrose oil; (7) fish oil products, such as eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaeneoic acid; (8) mushroom extracts; (9) cellulase from Trichoderma reesei; (10) yeast products; and (11) organic fertilizer from distillery slop. In Taiwan-Sugar (Taiwan),  48(2) p. 20-26


Pacific: Ultrafiltration/softening of clarified juice: the door to direct refining and molasses desugarisation in the cane sugar industry

The Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (HC&S) has been working on "molasses desugarization" to increase sugar recovery in the factory. A new process was developed jointly by Applexion and HC&S called the NAP (New Applexion Process) in which ultrafiltration and softening of clarified juice are incorporated between the clarifier and the evaporator stations. The new system was installed and has been in operation for a full season at the Puunene mill in Hawaii. The new system is described, and the operation and results are presented. A brief review of the potential applications to refining, molasses desugarization, invert sugar purification and alcohol reduction is presented. Author's summary. In Proceedings-South-African-Sugar-Technologists'-Association, no. 70, p. 166-170


Caribbean : The agricultural potential of sugar cane in Cuba as a source of sustainable biomass production

Sugar cane offers many possibilities for high biomass production in the tropics. In Cuba, average yields of sugar cane over the last 10 years were 3.78 t/ha/month of millable canes and 4.74 t/ha/month of useful biomass. The potential yield production levels, however, are much higher and are situated around 10.8 t/ha/month for millable cane and 13.1 t/ha/month for the biomass production. Different cultural practices for increasing productivity, such as higher plant density, planting during August-Sep., adequate weed control measures during 120 days following planting or ratoon harvest etc. are indicated. In ATAC (Cuba), no. 1, p. 10-15


Use of sugarcane ethanol vinasse for brick manufacture

The physical characteristics of vinasse effluent from sugar cane ethanol production and its possible utilization in brick manufacturing were studied. In its concentrated form, vinasse is used as a fertilizer in agriculture, as raw material for single cell protein production, and for energy conversion. In addition, concentrated vinasse can be mixed with soil to obtain a material called soil-vinasse whose physical and mechanical characteristics allow the production of non-structural bricks. Air-dried bricks treated with 12% of concentrated vinasse showed good results in compression tests. Compressive resistances of 1.92 and 1.79 MPa were observed in brick manufactured from sandy and clayey soil, respectively. Such bricks cannot be used in wet conditions, but can only be recommended for use in the open air, following treatment with impermeable products or under sheltered conditions. From authors' summary. In Agricultural Mechanization in Asia, Africa and Latin America (Japan), v. 32(1), special issue, p. 51-54


Sugar processing and by-products of the sugar industry

Opportunities for diversification of the sugar industry include: (1) the production of raw sugar, plantation white sugar, amorphous sugar, liquid sugar, and glucose and fructose syrup; (2) alcohol production; (3) production of animal feed; (4) production of pulp and paper; (5) production of agglomerated products; (6) production of fuels; (7) the generation of electric power and steam for raw sugar production; and (8) the use of steam in raw sugar production. Apart from its use as a nutritive sweetener, sugar has a number of functional properties. These include its contribution to colour development and contribution to the bulk, body and texture of foods. It also has a preservative effect, owing to its ability to lower water activity in food systems. Sugar is produced in both liquid and crystalline forms. Liquid sugars are primarily used in industrial applications, while crystalline sugar is used in both domestic and industrial applications. In FAO Agricultural Services Bulletin (FAO), no. 144


Production of ethanol by a sugar mill

The process and equipment for ethanol production by fermentation, and the recovery of ethanol by distillation are described. The production of ethanol from sugar products has followed conventional methods for decades. The oil price shock of the early 1970s and the dramatic increase in ethanol production for motor fuel in Brazil has led to a renewed interest in research and development into more efficient and cost-effective processes. There are substantial advantages for a sugar mill when a distillery is appended. The use of ethanol as a substitute or extender for petroleum fuels also has many advantages. In assessing the economic viability of ethanol production and utilization as a fuel the economic contribution of these advantages should be accounted. From author's summary. In Sugar Journal, v. 65(7) p. 11, 14-17


International experiences with mechanized sugar cane harvesting

International experiences with mechanized sugar cane harvesting are summarized. Patterns of levels reached in mechanized harvesting in Cuba, Louisiana (USA) and Australia are considered. No international pattern was detected, except in very broad terms in the direction of complete mechanization; but there are some common characteristics; e.g. the technical competence of the manufacturers for finding solutions that can overcome the natural climatic and soil limitations to achieve greater efficiency. It is concluded that an analysis of technological change represented by mechanized harvesting of sugar cane should take into account, with equal emphasis, a macro-economic perspective, the overall conditions of the economy, and the conditions that have impact on the development and diffusion of technology per se. In Informacoes Economicas Instituto de Economia Agricola (Brazil), v. 28(7) p. 11-21


Productivity improvement in sugar cane plantations in Asia

A seminar on productivity improvement in sugar cane production systems was held in Yogyakarta (Indonesia), 7-12 Dec. 1998, to assess the problems and constraints facing sugar cane plantations in Asian countries, and to identify measures for improving their productivity performance. Country papers from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam were presented to review the recent trends in sugar cane production, the problems and constraints affecting the productivity of sugar cane plantations and future prospects of sugar cane growing. Selected experts presented 5 resource papers: (1) opportunities for improved management for sustainable sugar cane production; (2) modernizing technology for improving productivity and competitiveness in the sugar cane industry; (3) problems and constraints on sugar cane production in Indonesia; (4) trends and outlook of the world's sugar market; and (5) post-harvest handling of sugar cane.


Africa: De-scaling the sugar processing technology in Tanzania

In 1990, the Institute of Production Innovation (IPI) in Tanzania introduced small-scale sugar processing equipment to the market, which it developed as a response to the rapidly growing demand for sugar in the country. The IPI technology simplifies the complicated operational features found in large-scale sugar mills, thus making the sugar processing technology accessible for application at village level. The IPI sugar processing equipment is known to be technically and economically efficient and appropriate for sugar production in Tanzania. Its technical performance is comparable to that of mini-sugar plants in India. Diffusion of the technology was initially constrained by the lack of awareness of the technology and lack of the right variety of sugar cane for processing. That notwithstanding, several plants have been installed since the first introduction in 1990 and are now in operation in various parts of the country. Authors' summary. In Science,-Technology-and-Development (UK), v. 14(1) p. 59-69


Africa: An innovative sugar mill: construction and first two years of operation at Komati

The design, project management and the first 2 seasons of operation of a new mill in Komati, South Africa, are described with special references to innovative design or equipment. An overview of the time and cost to build a mill of this type are also given and the critical areas of concern when managing a fast-track project are highlighted. The initial performance was severely handicapped by the effect on cane supplies of an abnormal drought, but it soon showed excellent results for extraction percentage and sugar colour. Authors' summary. In International-Sugar-Journal (UK), v. 98(1169) p. 223-229


Africa: A review of instruments developed by SMRI for factory measurements

Over the past 10 years, South Africa's Sugar Milling Research Institute (SMRI) has developed a number of instruments for making process measurements in factories. In most cases, the instruments were developed because commercial instruments were unavailable or unsuitable for use in the harsh environment of sugar factories. Equipment developed by the SMRI include instruments for torque measurement, conductivity tracer testing, volumetric measurement on a conveyor, measurement of total suspended solids in a mud mixer, measurement of mud consistency from a clarifier, evaporator scaling, Preparation Index, mill lift, juice clarity, clarifier mud level and pressure in pressure feeder chutes. A brief description of each instrument or method, and some application examples, are given. From authors' summary. In Proceedings South African Sugar Technologists' Association, no. 73, p. 277-281


Control of microbiological losses prior to cane delivery, during sugar processing

The control of microbiological losses in the sugar refining process is discussed. The presence of bacteria and viruses in sugar crops reduces sugar yield and produces by-products, which then lower sugar purity and create problems in refining. Bacteria infest sugar cane and sugar beet primarily during the harvesting period. Minimizing the time between harvesting and refining is the most important factor in reducing microbial infections. Different methods of controlling bacteria during the actual refining period are presented. Several traditional chemical additives and their efficacy are reviewed. A combination of regulating temperature and chemical levels has proven to be more effective than any one method alone. Recent developments in biotechnology and chemical disinfectants are compared with traditional methods of bacteriological controls. Ozone and chlorine oxide are being increasingly employed. With an increase in resistant sugar crops and more effective methods of controlling microbiological activity, sugar losses are being minimized. From authors' summary. In International Sugar Journal (UK), v. 104(1239) p. 118-123


Improving the development, marketing and supply of sugarcane to accelerate sugar productivity

The evolution of sugar productivity in India during 1990-1996 is analysed, and measures to accelerate sugar cane and sugar production are suggested. It is shown that average sugar cane yields are about 85 t/ha in tropical states, such as Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, but only 55 t/ha in subtropical states such as Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. Using existing sugar cane production technology, farmers have shown in crop competitions that more than 200 t/ha can be attained in the subtropical belt, and more than 300 t/ha in the tropical belt. It is considered that there is more scope for improvement in the subtropics than in the tropics. The consolidation of small farms is deemed necessary for the intensification of development activities and efficient utilization of available inputs. Other measures include the development of suitable varieties, provision of adequate irrigation, drainage, fertilizers and plant protection, and improvements in the fields of finance, marketing, sugar cane supply and pricing policy.  In Financing-Agriculture (India), v. 28(4)


Recent research achievements and current trends of products and process development at the Taiwan Sugar Research Institute

 A review of the research activities carried out from 1985 to 1996 at the Taiwan Sugar Research Institute (TSRI) is provided and current trends of products and process development are indicated. It is considered that new products and process development are of strategic importance in upgrading technological and industrial capabilities. New products include L-lysine, enzymes, health foods, starch products, candy, natural red pigment from Opuntia dillenii fruits, erythritol, and bagasse pulp paper products. Various advances in process development are described, including those related to ethanol fermentation, commercial-scale production of fructo-oligosaccharides, and granular lecithin. Other information pertains to the production of pearl sago, soybean products, quality control of shark cartilage, the analysis of polysaccharides, triterpenoids, and germanium in Ganoderma (medicinal mushrooms), treatment of industrial wastewater and environmental impact assessment of a bagasse pulp factory. In Taiwan-Sugar (Taiwan), v. 44(3) p. 8-21