A new global network hopes to create connections and build stronger bonds across the sugar cane industry in an attempt to close the innovation gap.

Until now Bonsucro has worked towards developing sustainability standards for the industry but its new Global Producer Innovation Network (GPIN) will become the action arm of the group.

Bonsucro chairman Kevin Ogorzalek says the network will create a forum for farmers and millers to learn from each other to solve common problems.

"GPIN will provide the platform for farmers to work together around the world and expedite the adoption of better management practices and continuously improve the industry," he said.

"GPIN's going to create the forum and platform to validate new innovations as well as build capacity amongst farmers to achieve the standard and go beyond the standard."

"We're not trying to replicate, we're trying to strengthen what already exists and create connections that don't exist and therefore we'll build stronger bonds across the sugar cane industry."

The network will be funded by the body's certification fees and by AID agencies throughout the world.

Mr Ogorzalek says some of the projects funded will examine key issues in the sugar industry.

"We'll have projects focussed on improving nitrogen use efficiency, improving yields, as well as reducing burning throughout the world, on top of that improving labour conditions."

"GPIN's going to really focus on the indicators within the standard but it will allow farmers to go beyond those as well."

"GPIN's going to be structured sort of like an iPhone where we'll have apps that we can plug in, really towards achieving a standard as well as improving the sugar cane industry's performance on a number of metrics whether it's fresh water use and efficiency, fresh water quality, labour issues or climate change."

"With climate change we're received a grant from the Norwegian aid agency, along with other global roundtables, on soy and palm oil to reduce emissions through avoid a deforestation and forest degradation."

"There will be a couple of million dollars available to work with farmers restore and protect forest as well as improve efficiencies to avoid emissions."

Mr Ogorzalek says they envisage that Queensland based Project Catalyst will be a part of the global network.

"GPIN will be able to help take Project Catalyst to other parts of the world and bring other innovations of the world to Project Catalyst," he said.

"We are not trying to replace Project Catalyst, in fact we're trying to elevate Project Catalyst.

Cane growers involved with Project Catalyst have adopted and promoted sustainable farming practices to achieve greater efficiencies and reduce run off onto the Great Barrier Reef.

Sugar producers in other parts of the world face different, but some universal, challenges.

"In a number of countries farmers, especially in Pakistan and India, are facing shortages of water for irrigation, in Central America they're facing challenges around reducing burning, in Brazil they're always trying to grow more cane per hectare while reducing inputs for those types of efficiencies."

"So we're looking at challenges that are pretty universal but each is very context specific."

GPIN will involve farmers from almost all the sugar producing continents including South Africa, Brazil, India and America.

source: abc.net.au


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