eRcane celebrates 90 years of sugarcane know-how

Since 1929, the Réunion Centre for Genetic and Technological Research has been transforming sugarcane

A brief history  

At the end of the 1920s, the Syndicat des Fabricants de Sucre de la Réunion (Réunion Sugar Producers’ Union) founded the research centre in order to combat diseases (mosaic virus) that target sugarcane fields. The centre’s aim was to select new varieties that are more resistant to diseases, which produce a higher sugar yield and are adapted to the island’s agro-climatic conditions.   

Some 90 years on and the centre’s “passion for varieties” remains the driving force behind its team of specialists, who are at the forefront of genetic, agronomic and technological progress. Its tasks are focused on future uses and the know-how from Réunion is exported to many sugarcane producing countries.  

eRcane dedicates almost 200 hectares to varietal testing 

Growers – players in varietal research  

The researchers rely on a network of growers that are closely involved in varietal distribution work and activities concerning cultivation techniques. This commitment was praised by Philippe LabroDirector of Tereos Sugar Indian Ocean, at the centre’s anniversary celebration on 15 November this year. “Thank you to the researchers, technicians, eRcane employees and growers for believing in and working harder than ever to maintain our level of excellence, ensure sustainability and continue the momentum in the sugarcane, sugar, rum and energy sector.” During the celebration, five growers and one employee received an award for their commitment to the research and technical support that they provide each day.   

So what happens now?  

eRcane positions itself as a research centre focused on the future, seeking sugar productivity and new uses for sugarcane. The teams of researchers are already working on: 

  • New varieties of mixed sugarcane (sugar, rum, energy) in order to combine the added values of the food and energy products with the yield.  
  • Other uses for cosmetics, which may bring new added value, while respecting the principles of green chemistry: limiting pollution, reducing energy expenditure, renewable raw materials, etc.  
  • A genetic and molecular research programme, in order to better understand the sugarcane genome and thus improve its selection.