Figure 4-Sugarcane plant (6) (Ramat, Gan.. (2010). )

What is sugarcane?

Sugarcane is tall towering grass that looks like a bamboo-cane. The scientific name for

the sugarcane plant is Saccharum officinarum (Plant Cultures, (n.d.). Sugarcane is the

main source of sugar around the world.

Appearance of sugarcane

Sugar cane can grow up to six meters long. There are wide leaves that grow off of the stem

on the sugar cane plant. The stem is a bright green color (Naik, Abihjit, (2010, April 20). Sugar

cane grows best in warm and sunny conditions (Figure 1). It needs productive and fertile soil.

It also needs approximately 1,500 millimeters of rain every year to grow healthy and be ready

for the harvesting season (Prosperine, . (n.d.).Sugar cane needs proper protection from

weeds and other pests that can prevent the plant from growing up in good physical shape.

Figure 1- the appearance of sugarcane plants (1) (Willis, Alex. . (2006). )

Sugarcane grown around the world

Sugar cane was first introduced In India. Sugar cane got famous very fast and it was soon

extended to many parts of the world. Sugar cane is grown in over 121 countries around the

world (Pagewise, (2002) . Some countries where sugar cane is grown are: India, Spain, Italy,

Europe, Australia, Brazil and the United States (Figure 2) ( Pagewise,(2002) .

Figure 2-Map of where sugarcane is grown around the world (2)
Figure 2-Map of where sugarcane is grown around the world (2)

Products and by-products made from Sugarcane

The main product derived from the sugar cane plant is sugar. However there are also many

by-products that are produced when refining the sugar cane plant. Bagasse is the cane fibre

that remains after all the juice has been taken out (Figure 3) (SKIL, . (n.d.).This provides

enough fuel to power up all the mills used for refining the sugar cane. When the bagasse is

crushed it could make a lot of electricity (SKIL, . (n.d.).Another by product is molasses.

Molasses is the dark syrup that is found after all the juice is taken out. It is a raw material,

which is used for the production of alcohol (SKIL, . (n.d.).Sugar cane is harvested from the

stem (Oracle Education Foundation, . (2010, August 25). This is where the main product

sugar is enclosed. Approximately 70 percent of sugar is produced from the sugar cane plant.

The other 30 percent is produced from sugar beet (Oracle Education Foundation, . (2010,

August 25).

Figure 3- Cane fibres also known as bagasse(3)

Making the product

There are a few steps into making sugar from the sugar cane plant. A lot of things need to be

done to the sugarcane plant to make it into refined sugar so we could use it.

Figure 4-The method for making sugar from sugarcane(7)

Beneficial Impacts

Sugar is used in many things. Firstly sugar is used as a sweetener in foods. In many foods

sugar is an essential part of the recipe. Many cakes and biscuits require you to use sugar in it.

Sugar is used to enhance the taste in foods so that the foods can please the taste buds. Sugar

is used in cooking and baking. Sugar can also be used to preserve certain foods (Gravieli, Idit.

(n.d.). Jam, jellies and ice cream have sugar in them so they can be preserved (Gravieli, Idit.

(n.d.). Sugar reduces the temperature at which food such as ice cream is frozen. In many

countries around the world sugar is also used for medications. It can be used to cure

coughs, constipation, and other fever related sickness (Wageningen University, (n.d.). The

roots from the sugarcane can cure skin and other infections (Wageningen University

(n.d.). Many people around the world use sugar in many foods. Some of these foods include:

coffee, cookies, tea, ice-cream, yogurt, pudding and gravies. Living things improved a lot by

the introduction of sugar. The energy that sugar gives us and other living things when we eat

it is really good for our body. This energy is used by our body for many things. As mentioned

above sugar is used in many medications around the world. Sugar can help cure a lot of

illness and diseases. Sugar production helps a lot in the Canadian industry a lot as well. In

2006 Canada earned approximately $ 76.5,000 in the profit of selling sugar (Jain, . (n.d.). We

made approximately 74,068 tonnes of refined sugar (Jain, . (n.d.). Sugar cane is a very

profitable plant all around the world (Figure 5). It can be sold raw or it can be refined into

sugar which can be sold for high prices. Although the production of sugarcane can harm the

environment in many ways it can also benefit the environment. While the juices are being

extracted from the sugar cane the remaining cane fibers which are called bagasse are

extremely helpful. Bagasse can provide enough fuel to run a whole sugar mill. Since it is a

renewable sugar source no fuel is needed to run the mill. So no electricity is needed in the

production of sugarcane. Before sugar was introduced to the world many other things were

used as sweeteners. Sugar replaced honey, dates, fruits, cocoa, beans, and syrups such as

maple syrup (Figure 7).

Top Sugar producers in the world
Amount of sugar made in tonnes
Figure 7-The top sugar producers around the world in 2008.
Figure 6-Natural sweeteners(4) (ruestar Health & Healthnotes, . (2010).)

Harmful Impacts

The environment is harmed a lot by the production of sugar. Every year approximately 5-6

million hectors are lost in the production of sugarcane crops (Sugar and the environment -

encouraging better management practices in sugar production and processing. (2005).

Growing sugarcane crops can lead to the reduction of soil during the harvesting season.

These impacts can lead to the damage of soil fertility. Thus soil erosion occurs. Many of the

fields are burned after the harvesting season in order for the new batch of sugarcane to grow

(Sugar and the environment - encouraging better management practices in sugar production

and processing. (2005) . Although this is good for the farmers it also ruins the soil. Many of the

nutrients from the soil are lost and soil degradation happens (Sugar and the environment -

encouraging better management practices in sugar production and processing. (2005).

Approximately 1 million fish die every year (Sugar and the environment - encouraging better

management practices in sugar production and processing. (2005). Many tropical rain forest

are cleared every year so sugarcane can be grown on it (Glyn, James. (1984). Many animals

lose their habitat because of this. A Lot of water is used to water the sugarcane so they can

grow healthy. Intensive use of chemicals and pesticides are used on the sugarcane. In the

mills a lot of pollution is stored. When these mills are cleaned out a lot of pollution is released

in the air. In America approximately $54 billion are wasted in dental plans (Glyn, James.

(1984). Sugar can cause a lot of tooth decay. Sugar has been linked to feed cancer cells (

Pagewise, . (2002). Thus resulting in the growth of cancer. Sugar has also been associated

with weakening the eyesight. Sugary foods are very addicting and they can lead to

obesity. Many other diseases have been linked to the consumption of sugar. There are many

alternatives that could be used instead of sugar. Some of these are:Fruit juice, maple,

syrup, honey, dates, glycerol, fructose and many more (Pagewise, . (2002).

Figure 5-Refined Sugar (5) (Dirty, Nailz. . (2009). )


Sugar cane is the main source of sugar around the world. Sugarcane is best grown in humid

temperatures. It is grown in over 121 countries around the world and many by products of

sugarcane are produced (Pagewise, (2002). One of the many by products is bagasse.

Bagasse is the remains of the cane fiber after all the juice has been extracted (Babu, C.N.

(1979). Bagasse is extremely helpful in running the mills. 70 percent of sugar is produced

from the sugar cane plant (Oracle Education Foundation, . (2010, August 25). The other 30

percent comes from sugar beet (Oracle Education Foundation, . (2010, August 25). From

sweeteners to medications, sugar can be used for many different and helpful things around

the world. Sugar gives a lot of energy to humans and although the production does harm the

environment there are many Eco-friendly remains from the sugar cane that can be used to

power the mills. Habitat loss is one of the main concerns of sugarcane agriculture. Good or

bad, consequently sugarcane has impacted mankind in a lot of ways.


Picture citations:

  1. Willis, Alex. (Photographer). (2006). Bioethanol sources. [Web]. Retrieved from 1.
  2. Netafirn, . (Photographer). Global distribution of sugarcane . [Web]. Retrieved from
  3. admin, . (Photographer). (2010). Bagasse – overview & commercial packaging applications of bagasse . [Web]. Retrieved from
  4. Truestar Health & Healthnotes, Initials. (Photographer). (2010). Natural sweeteners. [Web]. Retrieved from
  5. Dirty, Nailz. (Photographer). (2009). Sugar scrub. [Web]. Retrieved from
  6. Ramat, Gan. (Photographer). (2010). Sugar cane. [Web]. Retrieved from

Books citations:

  1. Babu, C.N. (1979). Sugarcane [2]. (books.Google), Retrieved from
  2. Glyn, James. (1984). World agriculture series-sugarcane [2nd edition]. (books.Google), Retrieved from doi: 063205476X

Text Citations:

  1. Plant Cultures, (n.d.). Sugar cane - plant profile. Retrieved from
  2. Nordic, Sugar. (n.d.). How sugar arrived in Europe. Retrieved from
  3. Naik, Abihjit. (2010, April 20). Sugarcane plant. Retrieved from
  4. Pagewise, . (2002). History of sugarcane. Retrieved from
  5. Prosperine, . (n.d.). Growing sugarcane. Retrieved from
  6. Gravieli, Idit. (n.d.). Sugarcane. Retrieved from
  7. SKIL, . (n.d.). Learn how sugar is made. Retrieved from
  8. Oracle Education Foundation, . (2010, August 25). How sugar is used?. Retrieved from
  9. Wageningen University, . (n.d.). Why is sugar used in foods?. Retrieved from
  10. Jain, . (n.d.). Sugarcane cultivation. Retrieved from

Journal Articles:

  1. Sugar and the environment - encouraging better management practices in sugar production and processing. (2005). Retrieved from

Encyclopedia Articles:

  1. Barnes, A.C. (2008). sugarcane. Retrieved December 6, 2010, from