Sugar is a necessary commodity in every Kenyan kitchen. Learning how to grow sugar cane to make huge profits is therefore crucial although there is a huge debate on the collapse of the sugar industry in the country. However, to bridge the gap in sugar deficit, it provides a profitable venture for good farmers.
Main sugar growing areas
In Kenya sugar farming is popular in the western region. There are three main sugar belts suitable for growing sugar cane.
- Nyanza region. The areas are Muhoroni, Chemelil and in some parts of Kisii.
- Bungoma districts. Sugar cane farming is done in Nzoia areas.
- Western region sugar-belt. The area is dominated by farmers from Mumias.
Sugar cane growing is mostly done on plantations. To realize a profitable income grow sugar cane in large scale.
How to grow sugar cane
For proper growth of the crop, the following are the required favorable conditions.
- High temperatures ranging between 20°-27° C is required. Dry sunny weather is necessary during the maturity stage. It enhances ripening hence accumulation of sugar.
- High rainfall to keep the soil moist. Amount of rainfall ranges from 1200-1500mm. Most of the sugar cane growing areas receive no definite dry period.
- The crop to be grown in an undulating and gentle slope to facilitate mechanization and easier harvesting.
- Sugar cane do well in deep fertile soils that are well drained. The soils should have a high water holding capacity. The best soil to grow sugar cane in is alluvial soil and black cotton soil (vertisols).
Infrastructural developments and good road networks linking the plantations and the sugar factories is an important aspect to consider. Another point to consider is labor availability, which is catered for in the case of western farmers. In these regions labor is cheap and readily available due to dense population.
Land preparation. After identifying the land, clear the vegetation. Plough the land, secondary and tertiary cultivation is necessary to achieve the required tilth. Leave the land for some time until the onset of the rainy season when planting should commence.
Planting. Choose only the certified seeds or the best cuttings/setts as the planting material. The best cuttings should be 13-15 months old. Bury the selected cuttings in the soil on the furrows. Sprouting of buds occurs within the first weeks.
Weeding and pest control should be done regularly to prevent attacks from pests and diseases. Application of fertilizers should be done and the appropriate type and amount considered.
Sugar cane reaches maturity after a duration of 18-19 months. Harvesting can be done and the yield transported to the factory for processing.
The full potential of the sugar industry in Kenya has not been unlocked. Currently the government has intervened in making the industry a worthy business venture therefore, investors are encouraged to take up sugar cane growing to meet the sugar deficit in the market by producing it locally.