Sugarcane is a tall perennial or seasonal vegetation with the tropical regions as its natural habitat. The average yield per cane stalk is 60-75 tonnes per hectare but can range from 120 to 150 tonnes if properly cultivated and managed in the right conditions.
The quality and yield of the canes harvested is determined by climate, soil properties, weed control, frequent irrigation, the variety of sugarcane, and harvest method. It is a cash crop and can also be converted into fodders for livestock.
The preparation, planting, management, and eventual harvesting of sugarcane are known as sugarcane farming and production.
Sugarcane crops demand not less than 10-24 months to reach maturity after which they can be manually or mechanically harvested. However, it is essential that the agropreneur stop all irrigation two weeks before harvest.
Sugarcane is grown across the 36 states in Nigeria but cultivated on a grand scale in Kastina, Kano, Jigawa, Adamawa, Taraba, and Sokoto state.
Sugarcane is one of the very few but efficient crop at converting solar energy into sucrose or sugar. The seasonality requested by sugarcane to flourish is a high sunshine and adequate moisture.
Sugarcane is world’s largest crop in terms of quantity of production with respect to the 1.9 billion tonnes produced in 2018 while Brazil accounts for 41% of the total world supply.
The Food and Agriculture Organization statistically stated that this was cultivated on about 64 million acres in almost a hundred countries.
The primary drive for sugarcane in agriculture is underpinned by the increasing global demand for sugar. The high consumption rate of sugar in Nigeria heightens the need for a rise in sugarcane production and farming.
Sugarcane cultivation is hugely beneficial to farmers, millers, and consumers who have to become experts in smuggling or spend extravagantly before they can conduct their business.
Therefore, it would be a prudent decision to make use of our favourable climate and soil conditions by cultivating sugarcane crops.
Other than sugar, products derived from sugarcane include rum, ethanol, cachaça, bagasse (residual dry fiber of sugarcane after cane juice has been extracted), falsernum. Pens, mats, screens, and thacth are byproducts of sugarcane reeds.
Sugarcane is processed in mills into refined sugar mostly by sugar refiners and producers, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage companies while the byproducts are processed to become biofuels, environment-friendly combustion materials, industrial chemical productions, etc.
Everyone is a potential buyer or consumer of sugarcane or its secondary forms. The pricing trends of sugarcane locally and globally is determined by government policies, influenced by logistics involved from cultivation till harvest.
As for distribution of sugar cane, companies like BUA Sugar Limited, Golden Sugar Plc, Dangote Sugar refinery, and Savannah Sugar Company Limited are on-ground, fully functional, and ready to pay money in exchange for high-quality sugarcane yield.
Profits-oriented business opportunities of sugarcane farming include Non-Alcoholic and Alcoholic Beverages, Skincare product, Biofuel/Electricity Production, Bioplastics, Sugar and Sweeteners.
The federal government recognizes the market, economic value and positioning of this crop and therefore offers a five-year, tax-free period to sugarcane farmers and investors.
Consequently, there is more financial leg room for production and distribution of sugarcane yields.
Health Benefits of Sugarcane include the following
- Increases muscle power
- It strengthens major body organs.
- It prevents dehydration of the body.
- Sugarcane aids faster conceiving in women due to its high folic acid content.
- It prevents heart diseases.
- It treats jaundice
- A good remedy for sore throat
- Boosts immune system.
- Prevention of DNA damage.
The excessive importation of sugarcane and its byproducts causes Nigeria farmers and entrepreneurs to be at the receiving end of an enormous agro-business opportunity considering the fact that the soil types, climatic conditions, and abundant farmlands are in favourable conditions for sugarcane farming if not throughout the country.
Over the years, sugarcane farming has been plagued by the following;
- Limited access to necessary farm inputs to operate at 100% capacity.
- Archaic method of soil examinations and preparations.
- Poor crop management techniques.
- High cost of production for immediate or small-scale agropreneurs.
- Poor facilities and technical means of land preparation.
- New and existing pests and diseases affects the maturity and yield.
- Low level of research and development
- Poor harvesting methods leads to loss of nutritional contents and values.
As the country with the second-largest sugar intake and mill in Africa, it is vital to fill the vacuum that has been created by the low sugarcane production and dominate the multi-million dollars market.
By David Tolulope Ijaseun