Sugarcane Farming in Ghana supports over 200,000 small – scale farmers in Ghana. In addition, an estimated six million Ghanaian derive their livelihood directly or indirectly from the sugar industry. Domestic production of sugar saves the country about $ 2 million in foreign exchange.
Main Sugarcane Growing Areas in Ghana
Sugar-cane is grown in fairly flat regions which include:
The Central Region Sugar-cane belt extending from Komenda through Agona and swedru to Winneba near Elmina. Sugarcane is also grown in Savelugu and also volta region
In Western Ghana, Komenda has dominated in sugar-cane cultivation.
Sugarcane Farming – Ecological Requirement
The sugar-cane growing areas in Ghana i.e., the Western and the Coastal regions experience the following conditions which are favourable for cane growing:
Temperatures – The temperature should range from 20° to 27°C throughout the year. The dry sunny conditions are also of great advantage as they promote sugar accumulation.
Rainfall – should be ranging from 1200-1500 mm. In these regions there is no distinct dry season.
Soil – The regions have deep fertile soils which are well drained. These include alluvial, clay soils and black cotton soil.
Topology – The areas should have undulating flat or gently sloping terrain which allows for mechanization especially in land preparation e.g. ploughing, harrowing.
Dry and sunny harvesting spell during the year which allows for maximum accumulation of sucrose and lases the harvesting and transportation of cane
Sugarcane Farming – Sugarcane Varieties
CoLk 94184 (Birendra)
It was released for commercial cultivation in north central and north eastern zone of India. Through this variety farmers can harvest up to 85 tonnes per hectare as plant crop followed by about 75 tonnes from same field for next 2-3 years as ratoon crop. CoLk 94184 (Birendra) is a rare combination of two desirable attributes i.e. early maturity and good rationing ability.
CoLk 8001(Co 62174 x Co 1148):
A midlate maturing variety released in 1988 for commercial cultivation in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. A high sugar from early to late crushing, high yield in plant and ratoon, midlate variety with wider adaptation. This variety is tolerant to borers.
CoLk 8102 (C o 1158 GC):
A high tillering, green foliage without spines, non-lodging, erect stalks, medium thick canes, very good ratooner, moderately resistant to red rot, resistant to smut, wilt, ratoon stunting, grassy shoot, leaf scald disease under field conditions, drought tolerant. This midlate maturing variety released in 1996 for commercial cultivation in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Sugarcane Farming – Climatic Condition for Sugarcane Farming:-
Sugarcane is considered as essentially a tropical plant. It is a long duration crop and thus it encounters all the seasons’ viz., rainy, winter and summer during its life cycle. The Sugarcane plant grows best in tropical hot sunny areas. The “ideal” climate for production of maximum sugar from sugarcane farming is characterized as:
- A long, warm growing season with a high incidence of solar radiation and adequate moisture (rainfall) – the plant uses from 148 to 300g of water to produce 1.0g of dry substance.
- A fairly dry, sunny and cool, but frost free season for ripening and harvesting – moisture percentage drops steadily throughout the life of the sugarcane plant, from 83% in very young cane to 71% in mature cane, meanwhile sucrose grows from less than 10 to more than 45% of the dry weight.
Sugarcane Farming – Suitable Soil for Sugarcane Farming:-
Soil testing before planting is desirable while setting up a sugarcane farming as it helps in determining the optimum quantity of macro and micro nutrient application. Chemical constraints in the soils, such as acidity and low fertility, are relatively easy to correct or control.
A well-drained, deep, loamy soil with a bulk density of 1.1 to 1.2 g/cm3 (1.3-1.4 g/cm3 in sandy soils) and total porosity, with an adequate balance between pores of various sizes, is higher than 50%; ground water table below 1.5 to 2.0 m from soil surface and an available water holding capacity of 15% or more (15 cm per meter depth of soil is considered ideal for sugarcane cultivation).
In sugarcane farming, the optimum soil pH is about 6.5 but sugarcane can tolerate considerable degree of soil acidity and alkalinity. Hence, it is found growing in soils with pH in the range of 5 to 8.5. Liming is required if pH is less than 5.0, or gypsum application if pH is more than 9.5. Nematode infestations are likely to occur in very sandy soils.
Sugarcane Farming – Land Preparation for Sugarcane Farming:-
Every time a new crop is planted is absolutely essential to bring the soil to fine tilth for proper germination of the sets and field emergence and root growth. Tillage is the physical manipulation of the soil with appropriate implements to loosen the surface soil layer.
Main Objectives of Land Preparation in Sugarcane farming are:-
To prepare a seed bed which permits optimal soil water air relations
Good physical conditions for early root penetration and proliferation
To incorporate preceding crop residues and organic manures
destroy weeds and hibernating pest & disease organisms
To facilitate proper soil chemical and microbial activity
Tillage operations through tractor drawn implements are most ideal and quick. For initial ploughing use either mould board plough or disc plough. Whenever, soil turning is desired, a mould board plough should be used in sugarcane farming.
Sugarcane Farming – Planting Methods in Sugarcane Farming:-
Basically there are 4 planting methods in Sugarcane Farming which are described below:
Ridge and Furrow Method:-
This is the most common method of sugarcane planting followed in Maharashtra. In this method the ridges and furrows are opened with the help of ridger by keeping 120 cm distance between furrows in heavy soil and 105 cm distance in light to medium soil.
Main and sub-irrigation channels are opened at appropriate distance.
First sets are laid on the top ridges end to end and later planted in furrows by two ways known as wet method and dry method of planting.
- Wet Method: – This method is followed in light to medium soil. Irrigation is given to the field before planting. Sets are planted by pressing 2.5 to 5 cm deep in furrows with feet or hand. The sets are placed end to end by facing buds on sides.
- Dry Method: – This method is followed in heavy soil to avoid the pressing as sets deep into the soil. Sets are placed in the furrow end to end by facing eye buds on sides and covered by giving a layer of soil. After completion of planting irrigation is given to the field.
Sugarcane Farming – Flat Bed Method:-
Flatbed method of sugarcane planting is followed in North Indian states like U.P.; Bihar etc.
The land is ploughed, harrowed, leveled and flat beds are prepared.
Cane sets are laid down in the flat beds end to end in rows. 60 to 90 cm. distance is kept between two rows depending upon soil type.
They are pressed into soil with hand or feet to a depth 2.5 to 5 cm and covered with soil.
At the time of planting care should be take that buds should face on the sides otherwise lower buds cannot germinate.
This method is followed where there is abundant moisture. Earthing up operation is done in rainy season.
Sugarcane Farming – Rayungan Method:-
Rayungan method is followed for adsali sugarcane planting at river side’s fields in heavy rainfall areas of Kolhapur district. In these areas usually cane fields get flooded during rainy season which effects on germination.
In such cases set cannot be planted directly in main field. Single bud sets are planted vertically in nurseries which are prepared high lying area of the farm in the month of June – July.
After six weeks the sprouted sets are transplanted in the main field when the danger of flooding is over.
Sugarcane Farming – Trench or Jawa Method:-
This method is practiced in Jawa and Mauritius. Trenches are made about 90 to 120 cm. apart and 22 to 30 cm. deep. The soil at bottom is loosened and mixed with manures.
The sets are planted in the middle of the trenches and covered with soil. Irrigation is given after completion of planting. This method produces large clumps of cane which do not lodge when tied together. The damage from wild animals is also less.
Manures and Fertilizers in Sugarcane Farming:-
Sugarcane is a long durational and heavy feeder crop thus, manure requirement is very high. The 25 to 50 tons of FYM/ha is applied during the preparation of land.
Harvesting and Yield of Sugarcane:-
Sugarcane Farming – Harvested Sugarcane
Following are the steps involved in Sugarcane farming: – Sugarcane crop should be harvested at right stage of maturity because both early and delayed harvesting results in loss of quality and quantity of the final product.
Irrigation is withheld for about 10 to 15 days before harvesting. The cane is harvested by giving slanting cut at ground level by cane cutting knife.
It is done slightly deeper if ratoon is not to be kept.
The cane is then stripped off dry leaves and roots.
The immature top potion is cut off along with 2 to 3 inter nodes.
Small bundles of canes are made with the help of leave rope and transported at crusher.
It should be crushed within 24 hours after harvesting to avoid reversion of sucrose into glucose.
Average Yield of suru cane – 100 tons/ha.
lAverage Yield of preseason cane – 120 tons/ha.
Average Yield of adsali cane – 150 tons/ha.
Transport & Marketing of Sugarcane: – Transport with trucks (tractors) and lorry to local Government markets or sugar mills.
Sugarcane Farming – Processing
Harvested canes are transported to the factory using either Lorries or tractors.
The sugarcanes are mechanically cut with rotating knives called shredders.
The cut cane is then washed with sprayed water.
Then it is crashed between rollers to obtain raw juice.
The juice is then filtered to remove insoluble matter.
The juice is then boiled with lime and allowed to crystallize to form raw or brown sugar
The brown sugar is then reﬁned to give brown and white sugar of different grades.
Sugarcane Farming – Uses of Sugar
It is used as a sweetener in beverages and various foods.
Also it is used in making confectionaries e. g. bread, cakes, biscuits etc.
It is used in making industrial alcohol e.g. ethanol.
The by-products of the processing are used in the following ways:
Cane residue (bagasse) can be used as fuel, manure or fodder.
It can also be used as a raw material in the production of paper.
Molasses is used in the chemical industry to process industrial alcohol and produce fuel alcohol.
Sugarcane Farming – Marketing of Sugar
The individual sugar factories are in charge of marketing their produce. This is done through the various wholesale outlets throughout the country. In most cases the sugar production has failed to meet the local needs hence leaving no surplus for export.
Sugarcane Farming – Problems Facing Sugarcane Farmers
Flooding of local market with cheap imported sugar leads to insufficient market for the local producers.
Burning of cane by arsonists or accidental ﬁre outbreaks make the farmers to incur heavy loses.
High cost of farm inputs which greatly reduces the farmer’s proﬁt margins.
Poor management of sugar factories and mismanagement of co-operatives. This leads to delayed and low payments to the farmers which lowers their morale.
Delays in harvesting of sugar-cane clue to poor harvesting programmers by the factories disrupt the farmer’s planning.
Disease e.g. ratoon stunting, mosaic, yellow wilt, leaf spot, smut etc. lowers the farmers’ yield and income.
Over production: In sugar growing areas, the peasant farmers have planted only sugar-cane which at times exceeds the capacity of the local factories.
Labour shortage during harvesting.
Poor feeder roads lead to delivery of the harvested crop to the factory.
Climatic hazards e.g. prolonged drought.
Sugarcane Farming – Significance of Sugarcane Farming
Sugarcane growing in Ghana has resulted into the following benefits:
It has created employment opportunities for many Ghanaians. People have been employed in the sugar estates and factories.
The establishment of sugar mills in the growing areas has contributed to industrial developments.
It has provided raw materials for other industrial Plants e.g., those manufacturing industrial spirits.
It has contributed to the growth of towns in the growing areas e.g. Muhoroni, Awendo, and Mumias.
It has produced sugar for domestic use hence saving the foreign exchange that could be used for its importation.
Farmers earn income through the sale of cane thus raising their standards of living.
The sugar sub-sector plays an important role in the country’s economy. It generates an estimated Sh 12 billion annually, provides about 500,000 jobs and supports livelihood of about six million people.
Total production of sugar stands at approximately 450,000 metric tonnes. Total demand for sugar in Ghana is 610,000 tonnes-the deficit is filed by imported sugar.
Of the imported sugar, between 80,000 to 100,000 tonnes are used as raw materials in the manufacture of beverages, confectionery, pharmaceuticals and other industrial products.