More than 40% of the world’s sugarcane is grown throughout SE Asia, China, Pakistan and India. Estimates suggesting that currently more than 70% of this sugarcane is still planted and harvested by hand. Therefore, expect some fairly dramatic changes in the way we farm throughout this region over the next two decades.
SE Asia is tracking towards total sugarcane production of around 250 MT by 2022. Increased mechanisation and adopting best practices, particularly with ground preparation and planting could help increase sugarcane production by 20%. This could mean an additional 50 MT of sugarcane produced each year by embracing similar practices to that of a fully mechanised sugarcane country like Australia.
Labour costs still look relatively low for most of SE Asia. However, it is inevitable with greater urbanization, a gradual decrease in suitable labour, increased pressure on wages and government restrictions on harvesting practices, will all ultimately place greater focus on farmers to get more efficient with their farming techniques.