By S. Olanrewaju Disu .
In Lagos State, sugar-cane is commonly grown in domestic gardens for casual cutting and chewing, and any surplus taken to market for sale.The botanical name of sugar-cane is “Saccharum officinarum, Family Gramineae”. It is a perennial clumped grass, very polymorphic with canes of various dimensions : e.g. 1.5cm to 6cm in diameter; 5cm to 25cm node-length; and 2.5meters to 6meters in height.
Consumption and other uses of sugar-cane in Lagos Area far outstrip its cultivation in Lagos Area gardens and farms.Therefore, sugar-cane is massively brought into Lagos from the hinterland, especially from the north, where it is cultivated on a very large scale.
In Lagos metropolis, sugar-cane is chewed for its sweet sap. Chewing the cane promotes salivation.It is a laxative. Some ethnic group living in the state traditionally use sugar-cane in poultice.The sap is sometimes used in cooking ( for making sweetmeats );sweet drinks and sometimes alcoholic drinks. In the pharmaceutical industry, the sap of sugar-cane is used as a sweetening agent, while in agro-allied indusries it is used in food processing.
Culturally in Yorubaland, including Lagos Area, the Yoruba’s invoke the sugar-cane for the sweet satisfaction of being victorious over an enemy.
In our markets in Lagos, we have thick canes which are distinguishable from the thin canes. The thin canes yield sweeter sap, and they are reputed to be of greater benefits to sugar-producing industries - yielding better raw molasses and crystalline sugar.
Since there is no sugar-cane milling factory in Lagos State, most of the sugar-cane sold in our markets are on retail basis. Interestingly, we have street-hawkers roaming the metropolis with wheel-barrows filled with chopped sugar-canes for direct human consumption. These hawkers get their supply of sugar-canes from whole-sale sugar-cane markets, e.g., near the “Alaba-Rago” ram market along the Badagry Expressway in Lagos State; as well as the “Oke-Afa” area of the metropolis- a swampy section of the state that supports sugar-cane growth year-round.
A---- Sugar-cane grown domestically in a garden in “Gbagada Area” of Lagos.
B & C---- Sugar-cane hawker selling the commodity at the entrance of “Ejigbo Market”.