Sugar Cane Farming: How to Start a Sugarcane Farming Business

Sugarcane is a very important crop with many commercial applications. It is a rich source of sucrose and used in bio-gas and has lots of fiber. Other applications of sugarcane are production of sugar, chemicals and fuel.
The byproducts are also useful in making fire, manure and used in distilleries. Sugarcane exportation is a major revenue earner in countries like Jamaica.
The major derivatives of sugarcane is sugar and various sweeteners. Commercial sugarcane farming is very lucrative and attractive to investors.
Sugarcane plants are rugged, grow easily and profitable. It can grow on sandy block, dirt, and grassland. However it is good to fertilize the land for better yield.
Sugarcane is a huge employer of labor directly or indirectly adding to the gross domestic growth of many countries.
By Eugen Lehle (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Sugarcane Products
Sugarcane is used to make many useful products such as ethanol, bio-plastics and sugar. Ethanol is a clean highly affordable and renewable source of fuel. While bio-plastic is used as beverage containers and various food packaging requirements.
Byproducts such as molasses are used in distilleries and ‘bagasse’ is a fibrous residue from crushed sugarcane. Sugarcane is used to produce lactic acid, citric acid, ethyl alcohol, yeast
and sodium glutamate. Others are animal feed, synthetic rubber, poly-ethylene and benzene.
List of Sugarcane Products
Cane juice
Refined syrups
Liquid sugar
Granulated sugar
Custom blends
Animal feed
Economic Benefit of Sugarcane
The tall perennial true grass grows best in the tropics and warm temperate regions. The fibrous stalk is rich in sucrose a sugar based product.
Commercial farmers prefer hybrid sugarcane plants that grow fast, adaptable to their climate and produce large quantity of sucrose. Sugarcane is extracted through milling and produces 82% of the world’s sugar requirements.
The huge demand establishes sugarcane culture in many countries. Major producers of sugarcane are India, Africa, America, and Jamaica.
Landed Property
You need vast vacant land to start a sugarcane plantation. Make sure the soil composition is favorable including climatic conditions.
You have two options lease or buy land for your cultivation. It is best to purchase rural farmlands because they are very cheap and fertile.
Makes sure the land is easily accessible through land or water. Other requirements are closeness to source of water and proper irrigation.
Sugarcane Farming
Climatic Conditions to grow Sugarcane.
 Sugarcane grows in subtropical and tropical regions. The lateral shoot at the base of the plant forms multiple stems that a planted by farmers.
 Sugarcane is propagated by growing the 4m height stems in prepared beds. The plant uses 150g to 300g of water to produce 1g of dry substance.
The moisture content in sugarcane varies from 45% to 83% depending on the climatic condition. The amount of nutrients and soil fertility is important to the growth of the plant.
Ideal bulk density of soil 1.1g/cm3 to 1.4g/cm3 and water saturation capacity of 15cm and ph level of 7. In many countries March is the ideal period to plant sugarcane.
Prepare the soil by tilling and adding organic manure for easy propagation. Remove weeds, shrubs and roots to create room for growth. Tillage is done either through manual manipulation or a mechanical device like a tractor.
 Planting Methods for Sugarcane
Planting methods are done manually or mechanically. The interspacing of sugarcane stalk is important to maximize yield.
The crops are usually arranged into long parallel rows which facilitate easier harvesting and pest control. Do proper irrigation because water is important to the development and growth of the plant.
There are many designs and farming methods used by sugarcane farmers. There is the tower design, compact farm design, water canal design and fully automated design.
Planting methods include trench, ridge and furrow methods. The common method is to plant sets 2.5cm to 5 cm deep, 100 to 120 cm distance apart. They are planted vertically in manure composite soil.
Large provisions of manure are used throughout the growing season. Millers need to crush the sugarcane 24 hours after harvesting.
This effectively retains the sucrose content in the plant. Mechanized farmers use a combined sugar harvester to harvest the crops.
Register the Sugarcane Farm
Register the sugarcane farm as a limited liability company. You need land-use permit and trading license. Find out other state and local government requirements in your country.
Financing the Sugarcane Business
Running a sugarcane plantation is capital intensive. Fixed assets account for 70% of total investment. You need funding for mechanized machinery, landed property, building structures and purchasing stem buds.
Other financial considerations are labor costs, pest control, manure and irrigation. Finance your enterprise by acquiring loans from commercial banks in your area.
There are agricultural banks eager to help aspiring farmers in most countries. To secure loans you need collateral and a guarantor. Write a business plan and carry out a feasibility study.
Marketing the Sugarcane Produce
Sugarcane is valuable product that has a huge market. Sugarcane has huge export potential and your major consumers are manufacturing companies. Finding a good market isn’t difficult sustaining the supply is the major challenge.
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