October 20, 2014 04:21 UTC

Science & Technology

Life Not So Sweet for Nigerian Sugar Farmers

They say their land could be some of West Africa's most productive for sugar, if they had big local buyers | AGRICULTURE REPORT

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.

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report in Special English.
 
Farmers in northern Nigeria say their land could be some of the most productive for sugar in West Africa. But they say that productivity is wasted without big local buyers.
 
The Nigerian government has a new plan designed to help the local industry. For now, farmers sell sugar cane as snacks on the street while the country imports 97 percent of the sugar it uses.
 
Mallam Usman Abdu Gubuci has five hectares of land. He describes himself as one of the sugar farming "giants" in his area. He says his part of northern Nigeria could be a major supplier of sugar to West Africa. But he says 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 it.”
 
Instead, he says, all of his product goes to local markets, and people drink sugar water from the sugar cane stalks. And while these stalks do sell, he says, it is not a business that can grow.
 
Last fall, the Nigerian government introduced a 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. They do not expect that number to go down immediately.
 
Hajiya Bilkisu Mohammed heads the Association of Women Farmers in northern Nigeria. She says part of the reason local farmers cannot sell sugar for refining is that factories in this part of Nigeria face continual electrical shortages. The factories depend on costly power generators.
 
Saidu Usman Gwambe is a sugar cane farmer. He says his land could be very profitable, but he is not sure how much longer he can wait for a government rescue.
 
In recent months the Nigerian government has also announced plans to reduce imports of other food products. In January, President Goodluck Jonathan promised to increase food production by 20 million metric tons by 2015. Doing this, he says, will create 3.5 million jobs and reduce Nigeria’s dependence on imports.
This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • Local residents shout to a pro-democracy protester at a main street at Mong kok district in Hong Kong Friday, Oct. 17, 2014.

    Audio Will Hong Kong Unrest Affect Politics in Taiwan?

    Voters in Taiwan are preparing to choose to vote in local elections that may be partly shaped by protests in Hong Kong. As the election gets closer, leaders of both of the country’s main political parties are being pressured to strongly support democracy activists in Hong Kong. More

  • north korean balloon

    Video Activists to Continue Launching Balloons into North Korea

    An earlier launch across the border led to an exchange of gunfire between North and South Korean troops. South Korean leaders have asked activists to stop launching balloons, but do not have the power to make them do so. | As It Is More

  • African Cheetahs

    Audio Is Cheetah Fast Enough to Survive?

    In 1900, about 100,000 cheetahs lived in the world. Today there are only 10,000 of the animals. It appears that the cheetah is vulnerable to attacks by other animals because of its physiology -- the way its body operates. The cat simply burns a lot of calories -- the energy produced by food. More

  • South Sudan Africa Predicting Famine

    Audio Report: Two Billion Suffer from 'Hidden Hunger'

    People who suffer from hidden hunger have enough to eat, but the quality of their food is low. Ten of the 14 countries with the highest rate of "hidden hunger" are located south of the Saharan Desert in Africa. Several Southeast Asian and South Asian countries have improved since 1990. More

  • Foad, the brother of 15 year-old Nora who left her home in Avignon for Syria nine months ago, shows a portrait he took last September on his cell phone as he attends an interview with Reuters in Paris, Oct. 6, 2014.

    Audio European Women Answer the Call of Jihad

    Hundreds of young Europeans and others have joined jihadist groups in the Middle East. Experts estimate that up to 10 percent of the new members are women. These women are reacting to the lure, or appeal, of a pure Islamic state. And they seem to like the idea of fighting in combat for the jihadists More

Featured Stories

  • Millions of years of history, which can be found on the ocean floor, are collected and analyzed at the Core Repository in New York.

    Video Scientists Create New Maps of Ocean Floor

    Until recently, scientists had mapped only about 20 percent of the sea floor. But our knowledge of the deep seas is changing because of information from satellites. Scientists have produced a new map that provides a detailed picture of the oceans. More

  • General George McClellan created a strong Union force, but he worried he did not have enough men to defeat the Confederacy.

    Audio McClellan Approaches Richmond ... And Waits

    The North and South clashed in a series of battles called the Seven Days Campaign. The struggle saved the Confederacy but came at a terrible price. More

  • Solar Storm

    Audio How to Weather a Solar Storm

    The sun’s energy creates light and heat. It also produces charged electrical particles and magnetic fields. The sun can keep the earth nice and warm and helps our crops to grow. But a sudden burst of that solar energy can cause a power outage. More

  • Video Sting, War, Lou Reed for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame officials nominated Green Day, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Kraftwerk. Also included were The Marvelettes, N.W.A., Nine Inch Nails, The Spinners and The Smiths. | American Mosaic More

  • COLUMBUS

    Columbus Discovers America

    Generations of schoolchildren have been taught that Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. In fact, the second Monday in October is celebrated as a national holiday, Columbus Day, to honor the European explorer. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs