September 21, 2014 22:08 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

  • Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, who fled from the violence in the Iraqi town of Gwer, wait to return at a check point at the entrance of the town, Aug. 18, 2014.

    Audio Iraqi Girls Escape Islamic State Militants

    Samira, age 17, and Samia, 14, are members of Iraq’s non-Muslim Yazidi minority. They and other Yazidis were forced from their homes in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Azar last month and captured by the Islamic State militants. Here's the story of their escape. More

  • jagger

    Audio 'A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss'

    How an old proverb led to two songs, a popular rock and roll band and a magazine | Words and Their Stories More

  • Protesters walk through a cloud of tear gas Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. The Aug. 9th shooting of Michael Brown by police caused violent protests in Ferguson, a town near the city of St. Louis. Police used tear gas against the protestors.

    Video Police, Citizens Work to Create Safer Neighborhoods

    American police are using “community policing” to both fight crime and improve relations with citizens in many areas. | As It Is More

  • Former French hostage Francis Collomp (C) is welcomed by relatives and officials including Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (R) on the tarmac upon his arrival at Villacoublay military airport, near Paris, November 18, 2013. Collomp, a French engineer who

    Audio West Trades Accusations Over Hostage Ransoms

    Western countries have differing policies over making ransom payments to win the release of hostages. In the past month, the Islamic State group has killed two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money to hostage-takers. More

  • Farmers hold signs during a protest to protect their paddy fields from being part of a land grab to make way for the construction of a luxury Ecopark resort in Van Giang district, in Vietnam's northern Hung Yen province, outside Hanoi April 20, 2012. Land

    Audio Vietnam Rejects Reports of Police Abuse

    Human Rights Watch has found an increase in the number of reports of torture and death of individuals detained by police. But Vietnam has rejected the report that accuses Vietnamese police of abusing detainees. More

Featured Stories

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs