Sugarcane value chain © R. Carayol


Sugarcane is grown in more than a hundred countries, by independent farmers and agroindustrial firms. While the sugar and rum markets have always been the prime outlets for the crop, it is increasingly the object of interest from pharmaceutical, chemical and energy firms. Farmers will have to satisfy growing, ever more diverse demand. CIRAD and its partners are therefore helping sugarcane value chains evolve and diversify.


  • Optimize cropping systems, to reduce the impact of the supply chain on the environment
  • Promote the ecological functions of sugarcane: terroir management, improved landscapes, carbon balance
  • Study the possibilities of growing sugarcane in constrained environments
  • Produce better, more cleanly, through:
    - revised crop management sequences specific to local products, terroirs and social and economic conditions
    - integrated pest and weed management by means of an agro-ecological approach
    - the dissemination of safe varieties (thanks to the Visacane quarantine facility) and extended epidemiosurveillance
    - using sugar industry by-products
    - using information gathering and management techniques for decision support systems
  • Breed mixed varieties to produce both sugar and worthwhile bioproducts.


CIRAD assigns experts to production sites and organizes one-off support, assistance or advisory missions. It also has networks of research laboratories and greenhouses in which it can receive project partners.

  • Studies, definition and establishment of trials, varietal and agronomic assessments, economic analyses, statistical analyses, foresight exercises, disease surveys-diagnoses, technical support
  • Technical assistance to the main sugar plants and the various institutions linked with the sugarcane supply chain
  • Foresight exercises on the sugarcane supply chain, micro- and macro-economic analyses in various contexts
  • Environmental assessments of agricultural practices and life cycle assessments (LCAs)
  • Laboratory analyses of samples (soil, leaves, roots, etc) and recommendations
  • Visacane quarantine service in Montpellier: disease diagnosis and disease eradication
  • Decision support using simulation (Mosicas): analysis of potential, production and quality forecasts, production and quality diagnoses, impacts and optimization of cropping systems (irrigation, cutting cycles and dates, varieties, etc), impacts of climate change and adaptation
  • Research and development project design and management
  • Support of national and international policies on training and information.


Targeted genetic improvement

  • Varietal identification, pollen fertility characterization
  • Collection of varieties from crops in situ (CRBT-Guadeloupe) and by apex cryopreservation
  • Relational database on the traits of parents and their progenies
  • Varietal creation, breeding and genomics
  • Security of varietal exchanges.

Agroecological management

  • Integrated management of insects, weeds and diseases
  • Design of crop management sequences tailored to new products (eg high-fibre sugarcane for electricity generation)
  • Use of service plants to manage fertility and pests and diseases
  • Mechanization of production, rural development and environment
  • Use of fertilizing residuals (FRs) to totally or partly replace inorganic fertilizers
  • Optimized database for trials relating to the field of agro-ecology (ECOFI).


  • Spatialized management of production, satellite image processing, geographical information systems
  • Factory supply management and systems for payments to sugarcane producers (PEMPA decision support tool)
  • Mosicas: production and quality simulation tool based on the environment, the variety and various cropping system factors (cycles and ages, irrigation, variety, etc.)
  • Forecasting the effects of climate change
  • Tool for assessing the economic and environmental cost-effectiveness of an energy sugarcane supply chain (REEFCANE).

Products and services

With Visacane: disease-free sugarcane varieties

Visacane is the CIRAD sugarcane quarantine service. It provides disease-free sugarcane varieties worldwide, for the sugar industry and varietal creation centres. It is located at CIRAD in Montpellier, outside the sugarcane cultivation zone, and is part of a joint research unit on plant pathology.

VisaCane website

Other products and services