MAKARFI SUGAR REFINERY: A BURIED TREASURE
In Makarfi, farmers will toil for a whole year to produce sugarcane under the harshest condition one could imagine. Sugarcane takes a whole year to mature. The irony of this hardwork was that they had to sell their canes on credit and that too at behest of the buyer who dictates the price. Most times, these buyers take advantage of the situation to exploit the peasant farmer who has pressed hard by economic circumstances to part with his produce or it does away.
Imagine a whole bunch of sugarcane of about fifty canes tied together sold at at a paltry sum of N500 or less and even that on credit that may never be settled wholly. This is the predicament of the sugarcane farmer. Despite being a natural ground for the cultivation of different varieties of sugarcane, these farmers in Makarfi, are abandoning the plant for other less viable crops such as rice, millet, sorghum, tomatoes, pepper and onions.
Makarfi is blessed with wetland “Fadama”, which stretches as far as the eye can catch and covers tens of thousands of hectares of farmland. The inhabitants of this ancient settlement have been known for their famous brown sugar called “Mazankwaila” for as long as history could recall, yet they rely on refined sugar imported from as faraway as Brazil by the comprador bourgeoisie who brought it from thousands of miles away.
Imagine the joy of the farmer, if his produce is bought directly by the sugar refinery right at his doorstep. This is the dilemma of the sugargane farmer in Makarfi town.
The idea of the Makarfi sugar refinery was first conceived by the civilian administration of Malam Balarabe Musa as far back as 1979 as a move towards rural industrialization. All the infrastructure that would make the dream possible, including a medium sized sugar refinery were put in place at the time. Though, the administration was botched before commissioning of the refinery, no genuine effort has been made to revive the idea and rescue the precarious farmer.
Considering the frightening unemployment level, a government, if at all we have one, would make the revitalization of this sugar refinery a cardinal objective. Employment will no doubt be created and farmers encouraged to produce more and feed the plant while value is added to the agricultural chain. If 500 able bodied young men and women would be engaged in the sugar refinery at least it will ease the unemployment crisis in the country.
Makarfi had the capacity to produce the sugar we need in the country at far less cost than what we get from importing the product which drains the countries foreign exchange. We have a government that celebrates the construction of gutters and bogey projects thst have become annual rituals while it fails in the primary objective of creating wealth annual nd employment for the citizenry.