History and Domestication of Sugarcane

HISTORY AND DOMESTICATION OF SUGARCANE 12

Historyand Domestication of Sugarcane

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Abstract

Sugarcaneis theworld`snumberone agriculturalproductin termsof quantity.Itisgrownin morethan 90 countrieswherebyitis alsoprocessedforusein differentfoodindustriesandfordomesticuse.Morethan 90% of thepeoplein theworldusesugar in one wayoranother.Halfof thefoodprocessing industriesusesugar as one of their ingredientswhentheyprocessfoods.Theamountof sugar requiredin theworldis on theincrease.Thepurposeof thispaperis to discusstheoriginof sugarcane andtheearlycultivationof theplant.Italsodiscussesits earlyuseandthecontinueddomestication of theplantin differentpartsof theworld.Theresearchpurposesto showhowtheneedforsweeteners contributesto theincreaseddomestication of thenaturalgrass.

Sugarcanegrowingis amajorcommercialactivityin manypartsof theworld.Majorityof thepeoplein theworldusesugar everydayin their beveragesorsnacks.Foodprocessing industriesusesugar to processdifferentfoods.Humanbeingshavea tendencyto craveforthingsthat tastesweet.Forthisreason,thecultivationof sugar canegetsroots,andits productioncontinuesto increaseveryyear.Sugar canegrowsin morethan 90 countriesworldwideand,therefore,itbecomesthelargestproducedcropin termsof quantity.Unlike othercropsgrownforsubsistencepurposes,sugarcane is mostlycultivatedin largetractsof land.Thelarge-scale productionis theprimaryfactorthat makesittopamong foodcrops.However,thiscroplike manyothers is justa naturalgrassbutpeoplesawtheneedforits domestication to actas a primarysweetener producer.

Researchquestion

Thisresearchaimsat discussingthedomestication andcultivationof sugar canefrom theearliesttimes.With thisregard,thepaperseeksto answerthisquestionhowhas theneedforsweeteners contributedto thedomestication andcultivationof sugar caneacross theglobe?Thesisstatement

Sugarcaneis a naturalgrassthat wasstillgrowingin thebush millions of yearsago.Aspeoplestartedinhabitingdifferentpartsof theworld,theydiscoveredthemagicalplantthat could producea sweettasting sap.Their interestin theplantdeveloped,andtheydomesticatedit.Thecontinueddomestication of sugar canein theworldis dueto theincreasedneedforsweeteners by humanbeings.

Background

Sugarcaneevolvedfrom naturalgrassmorethan 100 million yearsago.However,itwasnot until 60,000 yearsagowhenhumanbeingsdiscovereditandstartedusingitas a naturalsweetener (Moore et al., 2014). During thisperiod,sugarcane stillgrewin thebushesandthepeople’sinteresthadnot developedenoughto domesticatetheplant.Sugarcane originallygrewin India andsomepartsof easternAsia thus onlypeoplefrom theseregionshadaprivilegeto enjoytheprimaryandnaturalsourceof sweeteners (Hartel &amp Hartel, 2014). During thistime,themobilityof peoplewasstillundevelopeddue to poormeansof transportandcommunication.Animalsandhumanporterswerethemainformsof transport.Thediscoveryof thenaturalgrassthat could producesweetsap,therefore,wasslowto reachtheterritoriesof otherpeople.

Thepeopleof Eastern Asia havebeenreligiousforthousands of years.Religionwasa factoramong theseveralcontributingto themovementof peoplefrom one placeto anotherin an effortto paytributeto their deities.Themonksfrom China usedto visitIndia forthispurpose.During their visits,theycameacross thewondergrassthat could producesugar andon returnto their landtheyinformedthepeopleabout it.TheChinese developeda lotof interestin theplant,andtheybecamesomeof theearlyadopters of thecrops.However,becausesugarcane didnot requireanyspecialconditionsforits cultivation,itwasputin thefieldswithout anyspecialformof cultivation(Solomon, 2014).

Duringtheentiretime,thecontents of thesugar canewereextractedthrougheither chewing or boiling.Itwasnot until 350AD thatscientistsin India devised a wayto extractsugar from theplantin theformof lumps.Theselumpsbecameportable,andthisledto sugar becominganimportantcommodityin trade.In the17thcentury,themobilityof peopleincreasedandsugar wastradedin differentpartsf theworld.Due to its rarityin manyparts,itbecameveryexpensive,andonlya fewpeoplecould affordit.

Betweenthe17thand18th centuries,sugarcanefoundits wayto thewestandAfrican countries.Thepopularityof theplantpromptedmanypeopleto lookforit.TheplantwasfirstdomesticatedNew Guinea in 8000 BC whereitwasputunder cultivationthoughin smallfarms(Denham, 2011). Othercountrieslike Brazil andUnited States of America among others followedsuit.To increasetheamountof sugar produced,a lotof laborwasnecessaryto clearlargetractsof farms.Slavetradefacilitatedthisby providingpeoplewhocould givecheaplaborespeciallyin theUnited States of America.

Today,sugarcane is grownin morethan 90 countriesworldwide.The totalacreageunder thecultivationof sugar caneextendsto over20 million hectares. Mostof thecountriesthat producesugar processitfordomesticconsumptionandexport(Denham, 2011).Thedemandforsugar is stillon theincreasedue to theincreasingindustrialization whereitgetsutilizedas a rawmaterial.

Researchinformation

Sugarcanegrowsin warmtemperateregionswith goodfertile soil.Theseareas liebetween 22 and32 degreesin thelatitude.Manycountriesaround theworldfavorthegrowthof thisplant.Somepartsof theworld,wheresugarcane grows,donot within thisrange.Due to their specialconditionslike warmoceancurrents,theysupportthegrowthof sugarcane. Since its domestication, farmerscontinueto developnewmeansof cultivatingtheplantby usingfertilizersandpesticides (Smutka et al., 2013). Thecultivated plantandtheonefoundin thebushdifferin variousfeatures.First,thecultivated sugarcane can growto a biggergirthcomparedto theone in thebush.Thedifferenceis due to theinputsthat farmersusetoprovidemorenutrients to thecultivated plantthan theone in thebush.Secondly,thecultivated plantgrowstallerthan theone in thebush.It,therefore,has moreyields. Researchshowsthatsugarcane is one of thebestphotosynthesizers. Ithas a highabilityof utilizingsunlightto makefood.Amatureplantgrowsto a heightrangingbetween two andsix metersandfive to seven centimeters in circumference(Teshome et al., 2014).

SouthAmerica is thebiggestproducerof sugarcane worldwide.Christopher Columbusintroducedsugarcane cultivationin theregionduring his voyagefrom America. Brazil leadsin sugar production,whereby,itproducesaround 731,000 metric tonsof sugar everyyear.Farmersacross theworldproduce1.83 billion tonnesof sugar everyyear.Thehighproductionis evidenceof theincreaseddemandforsugar (Teshome et al., 2014).

Sugarcaneis a legallygrownplant.There are norulesthat prohibitthecultivationof sugarcane providethemethodsare compliantwith theenvironmental principlesemployedin differentregions(Tahiret al., 2014). Thecultivationof sugarcane continuesto takenewdirectionseverytimedue to continuousinnovations.In the18th and19th centurieswhendomestication of sugar canegainedpopularity,farmersdidnot usea varietyof inputsto increasetheproduction.Theytreatedsugarcane as a naturalgrassthat didnot requirea lotof attention.Emergingdiseasesreducedtheyields andgradually,theyembracedtheuseof pesticides andfertilizers(Hartel &amp Hartel, 2014).

Today,agriculturalresearchers havecomeup with sugarcanevarietiesthat are resistantto diseasesandhavebetteryields. There has alsobeena changein harvestingtechniquesfrom manualharvestingto theuseof machines.During planting,machinescutthecanesinto therequiredsizes,andtheymakeharvestingeasier.Machinesare alsoessentialin harvesting,transportation,andprocessing. In developingcountries,manuallaboris themostcommonduring plantingandharvesting.Themethodsof processingusedtodayreducewastage as theycan extractall thejuicein thecane.The yields of each&nbspunit area continueto increase(Hartel &amp Hartel, 2014).

Theproductplaysan importantroleintheworldmarket.Sugar pricesaffecta widerangeof productsthat havesweeteners as one of their ingredients.Sugar is knownto attracttheinterestof governmentsandotherinternationaltradebodies.Due to its highprofits,itis proneto beingsmuggledfrom one countryto another.Developedcountriesproducesugarat alowercostthan thedeveloping countries(Hagos et al., 2014). If the low cost sugar isexportedto thedeveloping countries,localsugar prices are adverselyeffected,andfarmersare likelyto experiencelosses.

Forthisreason,there is governmentinvolvementto curtailexcess importationf sugar in countriesthat produceit.To increasesugar productionandimprovethemarkets,internationalandlocaltradebodiesare draftingpoliciesthat will governtheinternationalsugar trade.Theinternationalsugar marketgetsa regularinfiltration with governmentcontrols,internationalagreements,quotasystemsandimport controls.In locallevels, farmerscontinueto adoptimprovedcuttings that are resistantto diseasesandat thesametimegivemoreyields (Murali &amp Nair, 2014).Theinternationaltradepracticesto hugepricefluctuationsare on thevergeof beingreformedforthebenefitof themajority.Asituationof a freemarketwould be detrimentalto thepriceof sugar in thedeveloping countries(Hagos et al., 2014).

Thehugefiguredepictingthelargeproductionof sugar is not without a reason.Humanbeingsare veryresponsiveto their senseof taste.Mostthethingsthat peopleeatcontainsugar as an ingredient.Theworldpopulationis nowin theexcessof 7 billion people.Out of these,90% usesugar in their dailymeals.To satisfytheir needs,moreindustriesare putup to satisfytheir physiological wants.Morethan halfof thefood-processing industriesin theworldusesugar as a rawmaterial(Tahir et al., 2014). Thedemandforsweetfoodsison theincreaseandits productionhas to beexpanded.Mostof thepeopleassociatedwith highintakeof sugars comefrom thedevelopedworld.In thesecountries,peoplemostlyfeedon processedfood.Itis estimatedthatin thedevelopedcountries,each person consumesbetween six andseven spoonfuls of sugar everyday on average (Smutka et al., 2013).

Ofall thesugar consumedin theworld,80% comesfrom sugarcane. Theconsumptionof sugar has greatbenefitsto humanhealth.Sugar is a recommendable sourceof carbohydratesandenergy.Sugar from caneis alsorichin potassium, sodium, ironand,calcium. Forevery28.35 grams of sugar consumed,thesenutrients occurin variousproportions.In thatamount,there is 113kj of energy,27.51mg of carbohydrates,11.23mg of potassium, 41.96mg of sodium, 6.3mg of ironand17.01mg of calcium (Moore et al., 2014). Mostof thefastfoodspickedfrom thegrocerieshavea highconcentrationof sugar. Theyincludeice-cream, cookies,cakes,juices,sodas,cannedfruits,fruitjamamong others. Althoughsomefruitscontaintheir naturalsugars, sugar from caneis usedas a preservativeto givethem a longself-life (Haley &amp Suarez, 2012). Canesugar alsohas someimportantby-products that includeethanol, molasses, rum andbagasse. Ethanol is a majoringredientin themanufactureof wines andspirits.Bagasse is a primaryfuelforkilnsandfurnacesin variousindustries.Peopleusethewastematerialslike thereedsto makethatchesfortheir houses.Peoplealsocutthereedsandsharpenthem to actlike pens(Tahiret al., 2014).

Despitesugarcane beingan imperativeplantin thelifeof people,itcomeswith its littleshareof disadvantages.First,sugars containmany calories that can makepeopleobese.Te problemattractstheattentionof healthcareproviders especiallyin thedevelopedcountrywheretheconsumptionof sugaryfoodsis high.Theexcess consumptionof sugaryfoodsmakespeopleobesedue to excess calories in thebody.Forthisreason,peoplebecomeproneto diabetes andhypertension. Theharvesting periodresultsto a lotof airpollutionsince sugarcane needsphysicalburningto easetheharvesting.During processing, somegasses areemittedinto theairfrom factories.Thesegasesincludenitrogen oxide, carbondioxide, carbonmonoxide andsulfur oxides. Theseproblemscould easilybesolvedwith theadoptionof newharvestingandprocessing technologies that reducethelevel of gasses emittedinto theair.Thechallengesposedby sugar to humanhealthrequirea lotof disciplineandnutritioneducationto makesurethatpeopleonlyconsumeenoughcalories to keeptheir bodieshealthy.

Conclusion

Thedomestication andcultivationof sugar havebroughtto themarketan importantcommodityusedin thedailylife.Sugarcane is theprimarysourceof thesweeteners usedby variousindustriesin foodprocessing. Despite itbeinga naturalgrass,peoplecontinueto improveitthrough theapplicationof modernfarmingmethodsthat embracetheuseof fertilizerandimprovedcuttings. Theyields from a singleunitareaunder cultivationcontinueto increase.Estimatesshowthattheamountof sugar producedin theworldwill hit1.9 billion tonnesby theyear2015.

Asdiscussedin thepaper,sugar as a naturalproducthas variousnutritional advantagesin thehumanbody.However,thesenutrients havean optimal advantagewhenconsumedin therightproportions.Over consumptionof sugar posesthedangerof obesity especiallyin peopledevelopedcountries.There are alsoothershortcomingsarisingfrom theprocessing of sugar that affecttheenvironment.Processors should embracenewtechnology that reducestheamountof gasesemittedinto theair.Thenumberof acreageunder sugarcane farmingwill continueto increasedue to theexpanding foodindustrythat is in constantneedforsweeteners. By thisvirtue,itwill remainthelargestproducedfoodcropin theworld.

References

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