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How farmers, dealers make brisk business in sugar cane

According to the Encarta English dictionary, sugar cane is a tall tough-stemmed species of grass grown in warm regions throughout the world as a source…

According to the Encarta English dictionary, sugar cane is a tall tough-stemmed species of grass grown in warm regions throughout the world as a source of sugar, which is obtained from its sweet sap.
Our correspondent who spoke with some sugar cane farmers and sellers in Kaduna metropolis, reports that though the business is lucrative, the growing of sugarcane takes a long time before it can be harvested and consumed.
Adamu Ya’u, is a 33-year-old sugarcane farmer told our correspondent in an interview in his farm located along Sardauna Crescent, near Tudun Wada area of the state that he has been a sugar cane farmer for about 20 years.
“I have spent about 20 years farming sugarcane. It is a very lucrative business but it takes almost 12 months before harvesting. You have to be taking good care of the farm by removing weeds regularly if you want it to grow well or else, the weeds will take up the whole farm and the farmer will be left with little or no sugar cane for his effort.
“I apply fertilizer on the sugarcane farm twice before harvesting period so that it will grow well and yield good results. And even though fertilizer is quite expensive but that is how we buy it because, as farmers, we cannot do without it,” he said.
Asked on the challenges in growing sugar cane, he said, “there are lots of challenges because we hear that government provides fertilizer to farmers but in the actual sense we don’t get anything. We always buy our fertilizer without government assistance.
“In fact this year the subsidized fertilizer distributed by the state government, only a bag was shared among four farmers here. How can a farmer that uses 10 – 20 bags in his farm be given a  bag to share with three others.
“Most times those who have nothing to do with farming are the beneficiaries after which they re -sell to us, the actual farmers, at higher price. I normally apply Urea and NPK fertilizer in my farm. I apply three bags of each making six bags in my farm alone,” he said.
Ya’u also said that, “I have two wives and seven children and I feed them through what I do, which is farming.
“My appeal to government is to always invite our leaders each time they want to give assistance to farmers and stop giving it to agents to share because it hardly gets to the real farmers and such always brings distrust among us and our leaders.
“For instance, this year we bought most of our fertilizers from women and most of them know nothing about farming but were given the fertilizer to come and re-sell to the farmers at higher price.
“The land we use to farm does not belong to us, it is part of the Tudun Wada burial ground. We were given the land by the burial ground management to farm on it to be able to feed our families with the agreement that when the other burial ground is full, we, the farmers will leave this very land we are farming on to only God knows where,” he said.
On his part, Buhari, a 27-year-old sugar cane seller says he ventured into the business to make ends meet instead of taking to street begging.
“I was brought up in an environment where begging is an act of disgrace to the family, so I decided to venture into sugar cane business because it is a trade that does not require any training and at least, I have a source of livelihood.
“I am grateful to God with the little I am getting in the business because we are progressing. A bunch of sugar cane contains 15 to 12 sticks and the prices vary depending on the quality or size of each stick in a bunch. The big size, contains 12 sticks in a bunch while the small size are 15 pieces in a bunch. That is why their prices differ.
“We sell the bunch of 12 sticks for N600 while the ones with 15 in a bunch go for N400 and above. We usually bring the sugar cane from Kafanchan and Rigachukun, all in Kaduna State, but my only business here is to buy from the dealers and sell to make profit,” he said.
Asked how lucrative the business is, he said, “I cut between two – three bunches of sugar cane a day but it is only God that determines the market I will get on that very day. Sometimes the market is good and on other days it is not. I sell them in pieces and also sell in bunches depending on the customer’s choice.”
On the challenges associated with the trade, he said, “my only challenge is how to cut my sugarcane and spread them on my wheelbarrow for sale, if not I don’t think we face any difficulty in the business except enjoyment in the sense that if you make good sell you will not depend on anybody for any financial assistant.
“I take care of myself and my family members including a wife and two children with this business. I got married with the sugar cane business and I still use it to feed and take care of them. It is a profitable business, therefore let me use this opportunity to call on fellow youth, particularly those who are not doing anything to rise up to find something doing instead of sitting idle,” he said.  
Meanwhile, a student of the Department of Food Technology, Nutrition and Dietetics, College of Science and Technology, Kaduna Polytechnic, Hajara Yahaya, said sugar cane has fibrous stalk and contains essential nutrients which are a good source of sugar and energy.
“Sugar cane is used to cure sore throat, cough and flu. The fresh sugar cane juice contains enzymes that the body can absorb easily. Its juice before refining contains about 15 percent of sugar and is a high source of energy to the body,” she said.

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