Sugar Cane

They grow lots of sugar cane in this area. When I ride my bike south and west of David I pass huge fields of it.


One day when I was out I came across workers harvesting the sugar cane. I have been told that they burn the field first, so when they harvest there are only sticks to cut and load. It is surprising how organized and fast the activity is. Full trucks were leaving every few minutes to be replaced by empty ones, and there was a constant stream of containers to be loaded on the trucks.

I was curious where they were taking all that cane so I asked around and learned that there is a big sugar processing plant in Alanje, a town south of Boqueron and west of David. I figured it only made sense to go check it out for this sugar cane story.

Around Alanje and near the sugar processing plant I found even more sugar cane, fields of it as far as the eye can see! It has been harvested recently so the fields have small plants just starting to regrow. I found the plant but wasn’t able to see much of it, and the guards didn’t seem inclined to let me in the gate.

Now I know where they take all that sugar cane. I was told that they make molasses and white sugar there. There is another type of sugar that comes in solid cakes of brown sugar called raspadura or panela, but that is made elsewhere and sometimes in people’s homes.

An aside – I stopped under a tree in front of a field where some guys were following a tractor. One of them came over to talk with me. He said he had seen me on the bike before, and also on Sunday when I was out with the cyclists from Argentina who were staying with us. He decided the next time he saw me he would ask me where I lived! He said they were picking up rocks because rocks can get in the machines and cause problems. I’m always being reminded that I am noticed everywhere, and that farming anything is always more complicated than it looks.

About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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2 Responses to Sugar Cane

  1. schuttzie says:

    Cool, you followed the sugarcane to its end product. Interesting how they harvest~


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