03 March 2022, Mumbai: UPL Ltd., a global provider of sustainable agriculture products and solutions has supported sugarcane farmers in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh with their revolutionary Zeba technology, which has not only improved and increased the yield of the crop, but also reduced the input costs, leading to an increase in farmer profit and income. For sugarcane cultivation, Zeba was used across 25,000 acres of farmland in 2021 by 12,500 farmers in 10 districts of Uttar Pradesh and 5 districts of Maharashtra. The impact it created was enormous. The yield increased from an average of 35-40 tonnes per acre to 50-80 tonnes per acre, a 50% increase.
In addition to increasing the crop yield, Zeba improved the resource efficiency of the harvest, leading to further cost savings for the farmers. The use of Zeba saved 7 lakh liters of water per acre (data by Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, IISR Lucknow). Nourishing the crop alongside watering it, Zeba also led to a 25% reduction in the use of soil/crop nutrients, which as a result also reduced the amount of labour required. Overall, the use of Zeba resulted in a cost saving of Rs. 5000 / acre or 10%, and an increase in income of Rs. 20000 / acre or 15% in UP & Maharashtra.
Farmers across India are often grappled with stressed crops, ruined harvests, and failing fields. A disruption in weather patterns driven by climate change is further dampening their prospects and increasing the risk for farmers. While they are using more water, crop solutions, electricity and spending increasing sums of money on land that is not providing proportionate returns.
UPL Ltd. developed Zeba, a naturally derived, starch-based, completely bio degradable, super absorbent to address these concerns. Intended for in-furrow application, Zeba increases the water holding capacity of the soil, improves the nutrient use efficiency in the crop’s root zone and has a positive effect on the soil microbiome, thereby maintaining soil health. It can absorb 400 times its own weight in water and release it as per the crops’ need. It is effective for six months in the soil and decomposes naturally and harmlessly into the soil. These properties mean crops consume less water, reducing agriculture’s water footprint, which further leads to lesser electricity being used for operations like irrigation. The absorption of nutrient molecules for use later by the plant also means less fertilizer use per acre due to lesser leaching/wastage.
Vasantdada Sugar Institute, Pune, a renowned institution in the field of Sugarcane cultivation, in their three-year-long continual trial study (2018 – 2021), has found an additional yield of 8.5 MT per hectare against control plots. Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Rahuri, in their 2019-20 analysis of the technology, has reported 12.4 MT per hectare additional yield.
Ashish Dobhal, Director, India Region, UPL said, “At UPL Ltd, we aim to promote welfare and prosperity of the farmers who are our key stakeholders. Our mission is to use innovation to provide sustainable products to farmers that guarantee them not just financial stability but also environment sustainability. Zeba’s unique and revolutionary technology has completely changed the game with regards to sugarcane harvesting. Besides being extremely beneficial to farmers, the product also improved the quality of soil, resulting in benefits to the environment as well.”
Bharat Taware, Farmer from Vadgaon Rasai, Tal : Shirur, Maharashtra, said, “Due to the use of Zeba in my Sugarcane farm, I have achieved 1200 quintal per acre, compared to 650 quintals per acre in other farm where I did not use the product. It also helped reduce the water requirement and improve the crop quality”
Pramod Singh, farmer from Village – Jalalpur, Dist : Hardoi, Uttar Pradesh said, “I applied UPL’s ProNutiva Package on 3 acres of my sugarcane plot. I achieved 450 quintal per acre of sugarcane in the plot where the package was applied and 340 quintals sugarcane in the plot where the package was not used – a 32 % increase.”