Green sugar

WHILE burning sugarcane leaves makes harvesting the stalks easier, the practice is damaging to the environment. So Cinecana, the Colombian sugarcane industry's research arm, has come up with a way to help farmers harvest their cane in an environment-friendly manner.

Says Cinecana director James Cock, they recommend harvesting the cane green rather than burnt because "we get a mulch that covers the soil and helps to conserve water and control weeds". Other benefits, Cock adds, are increased fertility and residues being left behind that can be used for industrial purposes.

About a quarter of Colombia's annual sugar crop is exported and earns the country $140 million.