Why Katsina local sugar industries are dying
From Idris Mahmud, Katsina
The gradual disappearance of sugarcane juicing machines, occasioned by the decline in jaggery production across the country, has been identified as the major constraint of the local sugar industry in Katsina State.
Jaggery is a traditional noncentrifugal cane sugar consumed in Asia and most parts of Africa. It is a concentrated product of cane juice and can vary from golden brown to dark brown in colour.
Unguwar Garba Najaki in Danja Local Government Area of Katsina State is akin to local sweetener industry, as every household, one way or another, has been involved in the production of jaggery for over 80 years.
One of the sugar producers in the village, Liman Sanusi, said it was impossible for them to find new juicing machines while the used ones were on the verge of extinction.
“Four years ago, we used to travel to Sokoto, Kebbi and sometimes, Niger Republic in search of second hand machines at the rate of N200,000 to N3000,000, but now, it is becoming hard to get the machines. This has drastically affected our production by reducing our jaggery plants to about 45 from the 70 we had in the village five years ago.
“This, in effect, reduces the number of job opportunities in the industry as each plant has not less than 13 persons working on it, each earning at least N1,500 per day,” said Liman Sanusi.
He added that to stay in the business, they resorted to the fabrication of the wornout parts of the machines in Kano at the rate of N70,000 per machine, and that it took about three months for the repairs. This, he said, hindered the smooth all-year-round production of the local sweetener.
A large scale sugarcane farmer in the village, Alhaji Nura Sani, said jaggery production was the main source of the villagers’ livelihood for decades, and it provided jobs to people from their environs.
“Every household in this village is involved in one or two sugarcane production value chains into jaggery. Many performed Hajj after they were successfully established in the business. One interesting fact is that we concentrated on sugarcane farming because it gives us more revenue than producing maize, sorghum or soybeans,” said Alhaji Nura.
He further said jaggery consumption had significantly improved among the people of the state, with the high cost of refined sugar from 2016 when the country went into economic recession.
Daily Trust on Sunday observed that the jaggery industry in Danja Local Government Area is a thriving avenue of job opportunities to the teeming youths in the villages and their environs, especially in the months of October to April when youths from other villages and nearby local government areas moved in droves to the local sugar producing plants in Danja to take part in the production.
The jobs include harvesting the sugarcane, steering the horses that turned the juice machines, cooking the juice, as well as moulding the finished jaggery, and packaging.
Similarly, elderly women and widows take part in hawking the commodity in markets and towns, and used the proceeds to breed rams, which they sell during Sallah celebrations.
The chairman of Unguwar Najaki Gamzaki Social Club that engages with local sugar production and community development, Alhaji Sani, told our correspondent that they had never enjoyed intervention of any sort in jaggery production.
He said they provided the machines, horses, moulders, sugarcane seedlings and labour during production.
Finished jaggery product
Sugarcane juice machine at Ungwar Najaki in Danja area of Katsina State