Cengicaña celebrates 29 years of supporting the technological advance of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry

In 1992, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry made the decision to create a specialized center for sugar cane research. This is how the Guatemalan Center for Research and Training of Sugar Cane -Cengicaña- was born, which today celebrates 29 years of working to support the technological advance of the Sugar Industry.

Research on sugar addresses many topics which are grouped into five programs: varieties, integrated pest management, agronomy, industrial research, and training and transfer.

Climate change and technology

Sugar cane varieties

Cengicaña has developed cane varieties that contain more sugar and are more resistant to diseases. In addition, they are adaptable to the varied environmental conditions of the Guatemalan sugar cane zone. Cengicaña scientists have a National Collection made up of 3,085 varieties of cane, which is used for crosses and studies of the plant.

In the case of the Integrated Pest Management program, Cengicaña scientists combat sugarcane pests with biology, by looking for natural enemies of fungi and bacteria, and even owls and hawks.

Cengicaña scientists rely on technological tools for research on plant fertilization and nutrition, irrigation, precision agriculture, among others. In the area of precision agriculture, satellite images from the European Space Agency and NASA are used to monitor humidity and determine the maturity of the cane for harvest. In addition, in irrigation, the development of the app Cengiriego to optimize the use of irrigation water in sugar cane stands out.

Renewable energy production

Renewable energy from sugarcane bagasse

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry is a world benchmark for the generation of renewable energy from sugarcane bagasse, a residue of sugar production. Cengicaña’s industrial research program has helped the sugar mills increase their power generation.

This has been a key factor in ensuring that the Sugar Industry generates up to 35% of the Guatemala’s electricity demand. In addition, with the renewable energy produced by the sugar mills, up to 4 million tons of CO2 is prevented from reaching the environment.

On this day we congratulate the scientists of Cengicaña who with their work help to make the Guatemalan Sugar Industry a sustainable sector.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry works on restoration and conservation

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry is committed to a sustainable agriculture that is adaptable to climate change, with that objective supports the conservation and recovery of forests on riverbanks and upper parts of the basins, care of the soils that include green manure and conservation and recovery practices for the ecosystem such as fish farming, among others.

Forest recovery and conservation

In alliance with the Private Institute for Climate Change -ICC-, since 2011 the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has contributed to the recovery and conservation of forests by planting more than 5.9 million trees in the upper basin and riverbanks that flow into the South of Guatemala.

As part of this effort, 284 hectares of land have been reforested on the banks of the rivers of the South of the country alone, equivalent to 400 football fields, creating gallery forests and biological corridors.

These forests on the banks of rivers help to recharge water, to conserve soils by avoiding erosion and are also natural barriers that prevent floods, while they are home to species of flora and fauna.

In addition, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has 2,507 hectares of natural forests, which are protected and cared for, and are part of the agro-landscape of the South of Guatemala and benefit the conservation of biological diversity.

Soil conservation

Since 2012, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has worked hand in hand with the Guatemalan Center for Research and Training of Sugar Cane -Cengicaña- and the ICC in the development and implementation of practices for soil conservation.

One of these important practices is the plowing or the disposition of the land for the cultivation of sugarcane, so that it can better absorb water and nutrients, which preserves fertility and prevents erosion and flooding.

Legumes at Ingenio La Union

In addition, the Sugar Industry has implemented green manure through the sowing of legume plants that return nitrogen to the soil naturally. Sugarcane cultivation is renewed every 5 years to maintain its yield, so that, in the ideal areas, this renewal is used to rest and nourish the soil with the sowing of a legume that takes between 6 and 8 months in the field.

Legumes are the only group of plants that can capture nitrogen from the air and incorporate it into their body. When they are mixed with the soil, they contribute organic matter that improves the texture and structure of the soil. In addition, it promotes the proliferation of microorganisms that are beneficial for crops.

Crop rotation also helps in pest control because, by exchanging the cane for legumes, the life cycle of the insects that feed on the sugar cane is broken.

Release of native fish into rivers

Another program implemented by the refineries is to enrich the fauna in the rivers. This activity called “stocking fish” aims to increase the population of native species in the rivers of the South of Guatemala. The Sugar Industry, with the support of the ICC, has released around 50,000 fingerlings or small fish into the rivers.