The project addresses an important issue: enable smallholder farmers - including those located away from major industrial settlements - to participate in the market of biofuel production. Sweet sorghum has been identified as an effective feedstock for bio-ethanol production.
The project will mobilise groups of smallholder sweet sorghum farmers in order to improve crop productivity and enhance production and marketing of sweet sorghum to distilleries. The project will also engage private seed companies and input suppliers for effective input delivery mechanisms. Apart from direct delivery arrangements for neighbouring villages, the project will link marginal farmer groups with commercial distilleries through introduction of decentralised processing of sweet sorghum into syrup.
Overall the project will contribute to increased incomes to farmers, without compromising food and fodder security. The project will encourage a collaborative action to utilize the potential of sweet sorghum to the advantage of a number of countries in Asia, and other parts of the world, bringing improvements in incomes of the rural population. The participation of the private sector ensures a demand driven approach and practical results that could have a considerable demonstration effect for duplication.
After a successful first year of implementation in India and China, the Indian private sector cooperating partner was forced to close operations due to imposed unfavourable policies that prevented the processing plant to operate on an economically viable level. This is in contrast to China, where the project has managed to link up with a second private sector partner who is purchasing sweet sorghum on a forward contract basis from surrounding farmers on a large scale with plans for further expansion.