News / Africa

In Nigeria, Sugar at Home, Sweets from Abroad

A laborer gathers sugarcane at a commercial farmland in Numan community, Adamawa state, northeast of Nigeria, Nov. 2009.A laborer gathers sugarcane at a commercial farmland in Numan community, Adamawa state, northeast of Nigeria, Nov. 2009.
x
A laborer gathers sugarcane at a commercial farmland in Numan community, Adamawa state, northeast of Nigeria, Nov. 2009.
A laborer gathers sugarcane at a commercial farmland in Numan community, Adamawa state, northeast of Nigeria, Nov. 2009.
Heather Murdock
Northern Nigerian farmers boast about land that could be some of the most productive for sugar in West Africa - but they say that productivity is wasted without big-time local buyers. And while the government works to implement new policies to help the local industry, farmers sell sugar cane as snacks on the street while the country imports 97 percent of the sugar it consumes.
 
Mallam Usman Abdu Gubuci describes himself as one of the sugar-farming "giants" in his area, with five hectares of land. He said his part of northern Nigeria could be a major supplier of sugar to West Africa, but that farmers no longer even bother to grow sugar that can be refined.

“There is special sugar cane for that sugar, which we were introduced with. But when we planted it, no buyer. In other words, no industry to buy so we ended up wasting our money,” said Gubuci.
 
Reducing sugar imports

Instead, he said, all of his product goes to local markets and people drink sugar water from the stalks. And while these stalks do sell, he said, it is not a business that can grow.
 
Last fall, the Nigerian government introduced a new plan to decrease sugar imports and boost Nigerian production. The plan includes increasing taxes on imported sugar and giving tax breaks to anyone who wants to invest in local sugar refinement. It also calls for no import duties on machinery used for processing sugar.  
 
Sugar officials say Nigeria spent $620 million on sugar imports in 2012, and they don’t expect that number to decline immediately.
 
Hajiya Bilkisu Mohammed, who heads the Association of Women Farmers in northern Nigeria, said that part of the reason local farmers can’t sell sugar for refining is that factories in this part of Nigeria have to battle constant electrical shortages. They must rely on expensive generators, driving up costs and making their products more expensive.
 
Potential for profit

Saidu Usman Gwambe, a sugar cane farmer, said his land has the potential to be enormously profitable, but he’s not sure how much longer he can wait for a government rescue.
 
"We can call government to come and support us to continue the producing of the sugar cane," said Gwambe.
 
The Nigerian government also has announced plans to reduce imports of other food products in recent months. In January, President Goodluck Jonathan promised to increase food production by 20 million metric tons by 2015. He said that will create 3.5 million jobs and reduce Nigeria’s dependence on imports.

Ibrahima Yakuba contributed to this report from Kaduna, Nigeria.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: OLive N from: Winipeg,Canada
March 22, 2013 10:14 AM
President Goodluck is not telling Nigeria all of the truths as he know it. If the nation wants to know the state of the economy and truth about the future development programs, they must start by demanding monthly or weekly bulletin on how much is being spent to pursue his war on Boko-Harem. and relentless corruption by his public officials. This local war is Mr Jonathans current obsession which is costing the nation 1/3rd of budgetary expenditure . How can he fund other commitments alongside the war since he is not willing to make peace with Boko-Harem against common sense and all advice .

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid