Hard work bears sweet results for Dakhiliyah cane farmers

NIZWA: The wilayats of the Governorate of Al Dakhiliyah, such as Nizwa, Bahla, Manah, Al Hamra and Izki, are known for having large areas (55 acres) for the cultivation of sugarcane. The Governorate of Al Dakhiliyah is one of the governorates which is famous for producing red sugar made of sugarcane.
In a recent statistics of the Department of Agricultural Affairs Directorate General of Agriculture and Livestock in the Governorate of Al Dakhiliyah confirmed that the productivity of last year of red sugar amounted to 154 tonnes. The Directorate follows the cultivation of sugarcane and monitors productivity.
Farmers begin by preparing the land for sugarcane cultivation. This stage takes place at the beginning of April every year.
After a full year of planting the crop, and specifically in March each year, the farmer begins preparing for the juicing of the canes, by cutting the canes and cleaning them from the dry leaves and crusts, tying them in packs to transfer it to one of the mills in the wilaya.
The process of juicing the canes is done by new equipment.
It was previously done by animals to manage these huge iron machines.
Then generators were used, now using electric power. The sugar juice is then collected in a small enclosed basin equal to the capacity of the boiler, where sugar is refined.
Khalaf bin Khalfan al Masroori, owner of a modern mill in the Wilayat of Manah, said that after the basin is filled with cane juice, it is transferred to the boiler where the juice is boiled and the impurities removed.
This process lasts for about 3 hours until the juice is cooked and the water evaporates and turns into liquid sugar. Some of the rose water or other flavours is added as required, after which the boiler is discharged by transferring the contents to other ponds in closed stores away from the sun, where the red sugar is dried in special ponds or in a container made of palm fronds.
Sugar is filtered in this process to become dry, by having openings that allow liquid sugar to go out through those holes.
For his part, Ibrahim bin Mohammed al Riyami, the owner of a sugarcane mill in the area of “Merfa’ Daris” in the Wilayat of Nizwa, said, “Cooking sugar with wood fire is stronger on the maturation of sugar. It needs high fire and permanent ignition. After drying the sugar in pots, it is stored or sold to consumers”.
He pointed out that the red sugar is used in the manufacture of Omani Halwa (sweets) and other industries, and is sold separately on wholesale, adding that red sugar is popular among the Omanis as it is used as a treatment for some intestinal diseases.
The Wilayat of Bahla tops the wilayats of the Governorate of Al Dakhiliyah in the cultivation of sugarcane, followed by Manah, Nizwa and Izki.
The farmers turn sugarcane juice into red sugar for easy marketing, and because the validity period is long.
There are other industries that are produced from sugarcane, including ‘Al zeeg’, which is less dense sugar and is used as an alternative to natural honey or palm honey. It is manufactured in the same steps as the sugar, but in less time, as it is not fully dried and impurities are removed more than once. Rose water, cardamom and saffron are added in the final stage and then marketed.
Another product is ‘Al Balouj’, which is higher in quality than the red sugar. It is made by filtering the cane juice many times until high quality sugar is obtained and free of impurities.  — ONA