Sokoto — Sokoto is one of the states in Nigeria where sugar cane for consumption is produced in the country, though noted to have a high potential in Sugar cane production, at present it is primarily produced by small scale farmers in the state.
Sugar cane is one of the major crops being produced in the Fadama areas of the state and is mainly grown in Binji, Gwadabawa, Kebbe, Tambuwal, Yabo and Wamakko local government areas of the state.
One of the farmers in Sokoto, Ali who has been into farming for close to two decades said the state has large areas of cultivatable land suitable for the production of sugar cane, adding, "The upper part of a young cane is cut into pieces .The cut canes are then laid down horizontally into a watered furrow of about 6 inches deep and covered with soi."
He said this tall plant could grown up to 4 meters tall and it takes about eight months to mature and be ready for cultivation and consumption adding that the many processes of sugar cane production make it tasking.
He said most of the sugar cane growers in the state do not have enough money to hire the services of others who could assist them in the cultivation, adding, "The more the people working on the farm, the faster it is and the more sugar cane are produced."
Ali said another concern of many of the sugar cane farmers in Sokoto state is that they do not get the fertilizer sold by government adding that there are over 3,000 sugar cane dealers in the state.
Chairman of the Sugar cane dealers Association of Sokoto, Bello Bado who has been in the business for over 17 years saying every morning, over 20 vehicle loads of sugar cane are taken to Kasuwar Daji market in the state where Sugar cane business takes place.
"We package the sugar cane 10 in a bunch and sell a bunch between N500 to N750. People come with vehicles that could take 150 bunches of sugar cane, other vehicles take 200 bunches.
That of 200 bunches go for between N110, 000 and N130, 000," he stated.
Bello said, "Very early in the morning those who market sugar cane in wheel barrow come here to buy and go to the peeling centre provided by the state government to peel it and cut into small sizes. Some come from villages. Vehicles come to load sugar cane to various local government areas in the state."
Chairman of the Sugar cane dealers Association of Sokoto, Bello Bado said since three years back the prices of sugar cane in the state have remained the same, adding that sugarcane produced in the state is often not adequate so they also get supply from places such as Gwandu in Kebbi state.
To him, sugar cane business in Sokoto state is "Moving and progressing" but said inadequate capital is affecting their trade, saying the place where sugar cane dealers transact their business need serious repairs though efforts done by the state government to repair the area is not enough as it easily get bad because of the bad nature of the place.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr.Jabbi Kilgori said state government gives equal treatment to sugar cane farmers and other farmers in the state saying Sugar cane farmers in the state get fertilizer like other farmers and that they are also considered for any available loan meant for farmers.
On the recent consideration of Sokoto as a target by Dangote Sugar Processing Company, he said sugar cane is one of the preoccupations of the people and that is why the state is being considered as one of the target states that can produce industrial cane sugar.
"So when they set up the plant, they will give the variety and farmers here are already used to the culture of growing sugar cane. So they will be able to produce a lot and it will be processed. It will be made on a very large scale because we have water, we have the land, and we have also the growing culture.
When they come here, we are going to package and design the scheme. May be they will have a plantation and in addition they may also have the out grower farmers across the state. They will be given the variety to produce and it will be transported to the commercial centre where it is going to be processed into sugar and other by-products".