Sukari Nguuru

Ark of taste
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Sukari nguuru is a raw sugar obtained from the milling and boiling of sugarcane juice. Known by various names in different parts of the world (jaggery, panela, or raspadura, to name a few), the origin of this product is linked to the colonial era and, more specifically, the introduction of large-scale sugarcane cultivation into Africa and South America. In Kenya, sukari nguuru is produced in various regions, especially in the western part of the country, an area with the ideal conditions for growing sugarcane. In particular, Homa Bay County is one of the most important regions for the production of sugarcane and its derivatives.

The production of sukari nguuru is mostly a small-scale activity, often carried out at the domestic level. Sugarcane farmers are the ones who deal with the preparation of this product. In this way, they can add value to the raw material and generate a source of supplementary income for their family. Men are primarily responsible for production, while women are involved in selling sukari nguuru in local markets. In some cases, the product is also marketed outside of the production area in the major urban centers of western Kenya. To prepare sukari nguuru, sugarcane is collected and transported to a special building to be processed. First, cane juice is extracted by passing the canes through metal rollers operated manually or by motor. The juice is filtered through sheets, poured into aluminum pots, and boiled over a wood fire to obtain a dark, viscous liquid, which is poured into conical metal molds and cooled until it solidifies.

Sukari nguuru is a fundamental element of the diet of various rural peoples in Kenya: The Gikuyu use it to prepare muratina (a fermented beverage), while among the Luhya it is used as a sweetener for porridge and hot drinks. Small pieces of sukari nguuru are a typical dessert given to children in rural areas. This product, in addition to being cheaper than refined sugar, has superior nutritional qualities: It is rich in minerals, including iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

In recent years there has been a decline in the consumption of sukari nguuru, as this traditional product has been replaced by refined sugar. This change is due to shifting consumption habits, especially in urban areas, and to national policies that favor large sugar-producing companies at the expense of small producers of sukari nguuru. In some areas, craft production has been banned as it is linked to the illegal production of alcoholic beverages.

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Production area:Homa Bay County

Other info


Spices, wild herbs and condiments

Indigenous community:Gikuyu, Luhya
Nominated by:Dauro Mattia Zocchi