Uttar Pradesh IAS Association

Sugarcane Information System (SIS) – Kamran Rizvi

Project details

(a) Name of the State/Ministry Uttar Pradesh
(b) Name of the host/owner organization Kamran Rizvi (kamranrizvi123@gmail.com)
(c) Status of the host/owner Organization Cane Commissioner
(d) Name of the Project Sugarcane Information System (SIS)
(e) Name of Nodal Contact person Y.S. Malik (ysmalik99@gmail.com)
(f) Contact Address Deputy Cane Commissioner, 17-New Berry Road, Dalibagh, Ganna Kisan Sansthan Building, Lucknow

Project background and Application context

India is a leading producer of sugar in the world and almost half the national production of sugarcane comes from Uttar Pradesh. The sugarcane is grown in 44 districts of the state and it covers an area of 2.4 million hectares. There are 119 operational sugar mills in the state. About 3.0 million farmers are involved in the cultivation of sugarcane and it is the main source of their livelihood. The sugar mills purchase sugarcane worth ` 23,000 crore each year and sugar manufacturing is the largest industry in the state.

The sugarcane farmers are organized into 168 Sugarcane Growers Cooperative Societies. Each society has an elected board of directors which decides all the issues relating to the interest of their members. The grower cooperatives represent the farmers in their interactions with the sugar mills.

The Cane Commissioner is responsible for the development, efficient marketing, sale and payment of sugarcane of the 3.0 million sugarcane growers. The Cane Commissioner has the statutory powers to regulate the sale and purchase of sugarcane with respect to both the sugar mills as well as the farmers. This is a huge task especially when seen in the context that the sugarcane belt in the state is approximately 1000 km long and 250 km wide covering the 44 districts.

For a farmer with average land holding of 1.0 hectare, the following table gives the interaction matrix-

S.No. Activities No. of Interaction (approx.)
1 Survey of fields 2
2 Calendar of supply 1
3 Start of sugar mills/centres 2
4 Supply Tickets 12
5 Weighing of sugarcane 12
6 Payment of sugarcane 12
7 Development & other activities 9
Total 50

There are nearly 150 million transactions between the 3 million sugarcane growers and the 119 sugar mills. Each interaction is equally important and they have a direct bearing on the income of the farmers as well as the sugar mill

The problems faced by various stake holders are as follows:

(a) Problem faced by farmers
(ii) Wasteful expenditure on travel:
(iii) Lower incomes due to smaller supply to sugar mills
(iv Lower incomes because of smaller area under sugarcane:.
(v) Reduced weight due to staleness in sugarcane:
(b) Problems faced by sugar mills
(i) Loss of income due to arrival of stale sugarcane:
(ii) Lower utilization of installed capacity:
(iii) Unnecessary data entry:
(c) Problem faced by Sugarcane Department
(i) Presence of middleman and mafia:
(ii) Long delivery time of interaction intimation:

All these situations were causing financial loss both to the farmers and the sugar mills and there was a sense of anger and resentment towards the sugarcane department.

Objective and scope of the project

The problems faced by 3.0 million farmers and 119 sugar mills could be solved by a reliable, robust, quick and cost effective communication system between all the stakeholders. The central objective was to provide complete transparency to all the transactions/interactions between the sugarcane farmers and the sugar mills so that the middlemen could be eliminated.
This was a mammoth task as there are more than 150 million interactions in a year. The communication system had to be such that the end users i.e. the farmers could use it easily and the information provided was latest up to the last minute. This was very important because the literacy level in the rural areas is low and the ability to use IT related services was even lower. It was decided to launch a comprehensive Sugarcane Information System (SIS) which would address all the concerns of the stakeholders. It consists of a website, SMS & Query SMS system and IVRS system to be provided by each of the 119 sugar mills

Brief description of the Project

The sugarcane information system was conceived developed, tested and finally implemented in Uttar Pradesh in May, 2010. SIS offers almost real time excess to information generating at each step of sugarcane procurement process. It pushes data on three different communication medium namely SMS, IVRS and Website. Hand Held Computers & GPS System updates cane server over GPRS and cane server pushes this information over SIS in almost real time basis. Figure below shows a blue print of Sugar Cane Information System.

System Architecture

Sugarcane Information System is an e-governance platform that serve three million sugarcane growers who supply their produce to 119 sugar mills. The process architecture is designed to capture all transactions of the agri marketing chain in real time, upload it on website, trigger an instant SMS and could be retrieved by IVRS. The use of three parallel systems ensures that users of varying literacy levels are catered for.

How do we keep information of 170 million operations in rural areas upto date in real time? Put a HHC computer at farmer sugar mill interface to record the transaction. Devices such as Handheld Computers and Global Positioning System are being used for the accuracy in data acquisition. Being battery operated and rugged, they work well in remote areas. Since these devices are GPRS enabled, they can be used to communicate with the central databank in real time from even remote locations. Presently, seven thousand handheld computers and two thousand GPS devices are being used for data acquisition.

Significantly different modes of working (new processes)

Information via 3 mediums
SIS sends informations to the farmers via three different mediums viz website, SMS & website, SMS & IVRS to make it capable of catering to need a farmer of all literacy levels.

Weighment using SMS
To get his sugarcane weight, now farmers do not need supply ticket, rather by using SMS he can supply his sugarcane to the sugar mill.

GPS survey – different style of working for sugar mill.
Prior to the SIS atleast 4 persons had to be deployed for the survey of each field. Now only one person goes with GPS device connected to a HHC and does the needful, making the process cost effective, accurate and upto date the data base in real time.

HHC weighment
Now as soon as the sugarcane is weighed, the records are entered in HHC which provides a written receipt to the farmers and updats central data base instantaneously. With this an SMS is sent to the beneficiary and he is assured that his transaction has been recorded.

Electronic Weighbridge
For the distant farmers, who have to supply their produce to their nearest purchase centre. The Electronic weighbridges are installed to avoid mall practices being adopted in pre SIS era by weighment clerks.

Altered the expectations of stakeholders.

collaboration between society, mill & department

SIS is the outcome of unique collaboration where the project was conceptualize by the department and private enterprises were responsible for implementation and farmers were to benefit from it. As the planning was centralized and implementation was decentralized, SIS is not funded by the government and the sugar mills have to pay for it. The core of the SIS was defined by the government and each sugar mill has adopted SIS according to their needs with additional features. At the central level it needs only continuous supervision and leadership.

Processes and methods which facilitated the project (elaborate on the factors which are relevant)

Defining clear outcomes

Processes linked to clear outcomes (working backwards from outcome goals)

Several independent assessments on the SIS by prestigious national institutes have come out with satisfying results. Still, our biggest strength derives from the fact that the underprivileged sugarcane farmers, who were highly discontented hereto, have found contentment and strength through the system. In fact a Microsoft sponsored study of our project has pointed out, ‘UP’s sugarcane story has a sweet ending’?

Implementation Processes (capacity building, data validation, process re-engineering, site preparation, security, audit trail etc.)Identification of solution: The meeting with all the stake holders was called in August-September, 2010. Independent IT experts were also called upon to contribute with their expertise. An effective, instantaneous and reliable communication system that could share complete information between the 3.0 million growers and 119 sugar mills was the solution. It was jointly decided that a three tier system involving the use of website, SMS & Query SMS system, and the IVRS should be adopted. This would ensure that all the farmers with varying literacy levels could equally benefit from the system. Further each of the 119 sugar mills was to be independent delivery centres.

Training of IT Personnel Collection of mobile telephone numbers : Each of the 3.0 million farmers were contacted individually to collect the mobile telephone numbers. This was completed in September-October, 2010.

Design of model website : Model website for a sugar mill was launched by the sugarcane commissioner in September, 2010. It contained the basic templates for database to ensure uniformity across the whole state.

Launch of website by sugar mills : The IT personnel of each sugar factory were trained by the sugarcane commissioner’s office. Thereafter each sugar mill in November, 2010 created the database of its growers and displayed it on their website. Due to standardization, each of the 119 sugar mills website were identical and the 3.0 million sugar growers had their individual webpage which provided comprehensive information.

Launch of IVRS : Uniform protocol for IVRS was designed by the office of sugarcane commissioner. Each of 119 sugar mills provided the grower information via IVRS through toll free lines. This was done in November 2010.

Launch of SMS and Query SMS System : Each interaction of the farmers with the sugar mill was to be followed up by a confirmatory SMS. Growers started getting the SMS from November 2010. Till date 168 million SMS have been sent.

Hand Held Computers : This was used to provide printed receipt to the grower instead of a hand written one. Each of the 7000 purchase centers got the HHC between November 2010 to October 2011

Training of Growers : The sugar mills as well as the cooperative growers societies trained the farmers from November 2010 till March 2011. Leaflets were distributed widely to educate the farmers in the use of SIS.

Service level Agreements (SLA) : To ensure that each of the 119 sugar mills provide uniform, reliable and high quality services the use of SLA’s was made mandatory. The model SLA was adopted by the sugar mills in November, 2010.

Training of IT personnel : To communicate the desired performance levels, the IT personnel of sugar mills were given training at the office of sugarcane commissioner.

Performance review : The performance review of each sugar mill was carried out by the office of sugarcane commissioner. The regular monitoring ensured that all the components of SIS were complying with the standards.

The SIS was implemented from August 2010 and has since then been operational. There after the prestigious the Gold Medal of the National Awards for e-Governance 2011-12 was awarded to this project. The SIS has also won the overall Gold Medal in 2012 CAPAM International Innovation Awards for innovative use of technology in the public services and prestigious, Prime Minister Award 2012 for Excellence In Public Administration. The Government of India asked the reputed Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon to for an independent assessment of the results. The Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow (IIM Lucknow) and Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT Delhi) have also studied the SIS.

Constrains and challenges faced and overcome (problems related to data, poor infrastructure, scope, lack of trained manpower, co-ordination with various departments, work culture)

The main obstacles & constraints and how they were overcome are described below:

Size and geographical spread : The SIS is the largest rural IT network in India. It connects the 3.0 million sugarcane growers with the 119 sugar mills which are spread out in 44 districts. The problem was solved by making each of the 119 sugar mills into an independent delivery centre. The services to be provided by each sugar mill were specified in detail

Resistance of sugar mill : The cost of the SIS was to be borne by the sugar mills and they were initially reluctant.. Each sugar mill gains about Rs. 70 million annually by the use of SIS. This has led to the sugar mills adopting the system in right earnest.

Low IT literacy level of the farmer : The state has a literacy rate of 60% and the rural areas have even lower levels of literacy. The SIS took this into account by using 3 subsystems – websites, SMS and IVRS simultaneously. The farmer at the lower end of the literacy spectrum uses the IVRS which reads out all the desired details

Collection of 3.00 million mobile phone numbers : Each village was mapped out and specific village wise teams were designated to collect the numbers. Over a period of 3 months after continuous monitoring, the task was completed with SIS having 3.00 million telephone numbers.
Lack of connectivity : Some parts of the state did not have adequate mobile towers which led to poor connectivity. Further the sugar mills needed high speed internet lines to host the websites. The mobile service providers were contacted and are assured good business.

Impact of the Project: Both in measureable terms and intangibles.

Effectiveness in terms of governance and social/economic impact.


The SIS was implemented from August 2010 and has since then been operational. The Government of India asked the reputed Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon to for an independent assessment of the results. There after the prestigious the Gold Medal of the National Awards for e-Governance was awarded to this project. The Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow (IIM Lucknow) and Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT Delhi) have also studied the SIS.

The financial, educational and social benefits of SIS have come to the sugarcane farmers the sugar mills and government.

The key benefits to the farmers are transparency, elimination of middlemen, saving in unnecessary travel, increased supply of sugarcane to the mills, increase in area under sugarcane and Higher weight of sugarcane supply. The financial impact of SIS on farmers is shown below:
Financial impact on farmers due to SIS

S.No. Item Before SIS After SIS Increase in income million
1 Number of trips to sugar mills/society offices per year 20 4 5220.00
2 Time interval between harvest and supply to purchase centres higher weight of supply (hours) 48 24 1546.20
3 Higher production supplied to sugar mill vis-a-vis jaggery meets (million hectares) 56.76 64.43 459-80
4 Increase in area under sugarcane (million hectares) 1.79 2.25 348.00
5 Increase in productivity (tonnes/hectare) 56.34 57.00 891.40
Total : ` 8465.40 million

The table below summarizes the financial impact of SIS on the sugar mills:

Financial impact on sugar mills due to SIS

S.No. Item Before SIS After SIS Increase in income ` million
1 Time interval between harvesting and supply to purchase centres (higher sugar recovery) 48 hours 36 hours 966.00
2 Time interval between arrival of sugarcane at purchase centre and supply to the factory (higher sugar recovery) 18 hours 14 hours 579.40
3 Cost of data entry of grower wise sugarcane purchase details (no. of entries) 41.8 million Zero 208.80
4 Increase in sugarcane supply to all the sugar mills (million tonnes) 56.76 64.43 5253.00
Total: ` 7007.20

The software package consisting of websites, software for SMS system, IVRS and HHC cost ` 1.0 million (US$ 0.02 million) for a sugar mill. For all the sugar 119 mills the total cost of implementing the SIS is ` 125.0 million (US$ 2.50 million). The SIS increases the income of sugar mills by ` 7,000 million (US$ 140 million). The cost of implementation of SIS is a mere 1.80% of the financial benefits that flow to the sugar mills.

Cost Benefit ratio

Benefits to the Government

(a) Elimination of sugarcane mafia

(b) Reduction in layers of government:

(c) Transformation in the attitude toward e-Governance:

(d) Increase in use of ICT in rural areas:

Long Term Significance

(a) Low literacy rate no barrier to e-Governance : The simultaneous operation of 3 mediums provides access to all beneficiaries taking into account the varying IT literacy levels of the individual users.

(b) Sustainability: The SIS had no budgetary support from government and cost of SIS is born by sugar mills. The sugarcane farmers, the growers’ cooperatives and the sugar mills are receiving considerable financial benefits from SIS while helping government is perform its role as facilitator. All these factors ensure the financial, social and regulatory sustainability of the initiative.

(c) Penetration of IT in rural areas: The availability of information through SIS has led to the increase in use of computers in rural areas The confidence gained by the farmers on IT tools etc. is revolutionary and is an invaluable asset.

(d) Reduction in layers of government and middlemen: The implementation of SIS has brought complete transparency to all the transactions This has resulted in the elimination of middlemen and has cut down on the role of middle level officials thereby simplifying the system and getting rid of corruption.

(e) Replicability: The lesson learned can be replicated in the following areas:

The SIS can be used by all the organizations and Govt. departments that interact with large number of people spread over a wide geographical area. The areas where SIS can have a relevance are (1) Social welfare Department – inform beneficiaries about release of scholarship & social security pension; (2) Primary Education Department- verify attendance of teachers; (3) Land records- inform the owners about any change in ownership and; (4) Rural Development- information citizens about release of funds for local village body.

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