How FG’s Sugar Policy Is Yielding Results — Zacch Adedeji

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    The Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Mr. Zacch Adedeji says available records show that Nigeria is recording steady and appreciable progress in the implementation of its policy roadmap for the sugar sector as captured in the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP), a 10-year blueprint designed to revitalize the sector and make Nigeria a net exporter of the commodity.

    For the records, the NSMP is a 10-year ambitious and well-thought-out policy framework for the sector which seeks to bring about a complete overhaul of the sector to enable Nigeria become self-sufficient in sugar production, create direct and indirect jobs, generate electricity, become a notable global sugar producer as well as produce ethanol for industrial use and utilization. Recall that the Federal Executive Council had at its 37th meeting held on September 19, 2012, approved the NSMP for implementation and adoption as a government strategy roadmap for the development of the sugar sub-sector. Actual implementation began in 2013.

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    According to Mr. Adedeji, 7 seven years into the policy and 3 more years to go, the sector has attracted over N250 billion worth of investments through its Backward Integration Programme, even as more investors have expressed their willingness to commit their resources to the sector. Only recently a new investor, KIA Group Africa completed the process of acquiring the defunct Nigeria Sugar Company (NISUCO) in Bacita, Kwara state and has since commenced work. The KIA Group now joins existing industry players like the Dangote Group, BUA Group and the Flour Mills to drive the BIP component of the NSMP.

    He said, the new owner has set its eyes on producing at least 300,000 metric tonnes of sugarcane, refining an estimated 204,000 metric tonnes of the sweet commodity, and generating N46 billion revenue by 2027. He further added that a workforce of about 20,000 employees would be engaged to drive the company towards optimum production and ensure economic growth of the country. Also, another major player in the industry, Flour Mills Limited recently signed a multi-millionaire agreement with the Nasarawa state government to build a factory in Toto LGA of the state. The new project is in addition to the company’s N50 billion Golden Sugar estate in Sunti Niger state which was commissioned in 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

    According to a press statement signed by the Director, Executive Secretary’s Office, Mal. Ahmed Waziri, Mr. Adedeji restated government’s readiness to build a globally competitive sugar industry that would boost local economy, provide jobs for Nigeria’s teeming youth population and position Nigeria as a net exporter of the commodity.

    Mr. Adedeji said the Council it is wisdom recently convened a roundtable meeting comprising of critical stakeholders to deliberate and share perspectives on challenges associated with the importation of equipment and machineries by some operators. The meeting brought together stakeholders from the Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Ministry of Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria as well as members of the organized private sector. The forum later deliberated and adopted modest and cost-effective measures that would address the concerns of both the government and operators.

    On perennial disagreements and clashes over land between host communities and sugar operators, Mr. Adedeji said the Council has engaged important stakeholders on how best to address the issue. “We have found a solution to the problem. We now have a body known as the Forum of Sugar Producing States, headed by my elder brother and leader, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa state. The body comprised of governors across sugar producing belts in the country. Their major role is to help provide land for sugar projects in their respective states, thereby putting an end to frequent clashes arising from land ownership between communities and sugar operators”.

    On the dearth of qualified indigenous manpower to manage the sector, Mr. Adedeji said the Nigeria Sugar Institute in Ilorin has commenced the training of young Nigerian graduates both in field and factory operations through an exchange programme with the National Sugar Institute, Kanpur, India as well as in Mauritius.

    He said tremendous gains have been achieved with regards to the nations refining capacity, adding that the immediate action plan of the Council is to replicate the success achieved in the area of refining in field operations, which he believes is the heart of the BIP.

    “We have done pretty well in the area of refining imported raw sugar. In fact, we’ve surpassed our target in that aspect. Our next move is how best to replicate this success in our field operations. The Backward Integration Programme is actually the engine room of the NSMP. We are keen about local production of the commodity to meet local demands and possible export in the years ahead,” he said.

    He stated that government’s plan for the sector is to guarantee a huge return on investments for all players, attain self-sufficiency, create jobs, generate electricity and derive other benefits of the sugarcane value chain as contained in the country’s Sugar Master Plan.

    The three major sugar operators which comprised of Dangote, BUA and Flour Mills all have their BIP sites across states where operations are ongoing in the area of development of sugar estates which has created thousands of direct and indirect jobs for sugarcane farmers and construction of factories for full operations. The Dangote Group has its BIP sites in Numan, Adamawa state and Tunga, Nasarawa state. The BUA Group has its BIP site in Lafiagi, Kwara state while the Flour Mills Nigeria has its BIP site in Sunti, Niger state and recently signed an MOU with the Nasarawa state government for another BIP site to be sited in Toto local government area of the state.
    “Without doubts, the sector has, even amidst natural and man-made challenges recorded some milestones, especially as it relates to attracting genuine and profitable investments to the once moribund sugar industry, our refining capacity and the springing up of new sugar factories. We are not going to rest on our oars as an agency of government. We are quite determined and hopeful in our mission to turnaround the fortunes of the sector for the overall benefit of our dear country and citizens”.

    MAL. AHMED M. WAZIRI
    DIRECTOR, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY’S OFFICE
    1/11/2021

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