By Raheem Akingbolu
Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar alongside the National Sugar Development Council commended the management of BUA Group for the extensive work achieved on its Lafiagi sugar plantation, LASUCO â€“ a backward integration site for BUA Groupâ€™s sugar subsidiary, BUA Sugar.
This was revealed when the minister alongside the National Sugar Development Council, paid a monitoring visit to Lafiagi Sugar Company (LASUCO) – a subsidiary of BUA Group on Tuesday. The visit which was organised to ascertain the level of progress at the LASUCO Sugar plantation also included a tour of the sugar plantation and facilities.
The minister, who lauded the investments and extensive progress made on the plantation, commended the management of BUA for its progress towards local production of sugar in the country said: â€œWe are indeed very satisfied with the current pace of work and commitment exhibited by BUA on its sugar plantation.â€ We hope other sugar companies will emulate the proactive steps employed by BUA to achieving self-sufficiency in sugar production which will eventually translate to positive gains in Nigeriaâ€™s efforts in becoming a Sugar producing nation.â€
The Executive Secretary of the National Sugar Development, Latif Busari, also commended BUA, which operates the second largest sugar refinery in sub-Saharan Africa, for its steadfast commitment to attaining self-sufficiency in sugar through its investments in the once moribund sugar company. He also encouraged the company not to relent on its efforts but continue to sustain its strategy to moving the country towards self – sufficiency in sugar the shortest time possible.
In his response, the Managing Director, BUA Sugar, Ibrahim Yaro said that BUAâ€™s interest in the local production of raw sugar brought about the acquisition of LASUCO which he said has over 20,000 hectares of arable land, suitable for sugar cane plantation and is strategically located to serve the Northern and Southern markets of the country. According to him, â€œthe 500ha earmarked for our nursery development in 2016 has been developed. Similarly, what is ongoing is the land clearing and development preparation for additional 5000 hectares which would take us through 2018.â€ He further said, the company in its quest to sustain this laudable project, is not only planning to invest $300 million in the plantation but has acquired over 50 heavy state of art equipment to fast â€“ track the development of the plantation and achieve its aim of producing 1.2 million tons per annum when fully developed.
â€We are focused, determined and vigorously marching forward to meet our set targets with the Sugar Council. LASUCO is targeting the production of 2million tons of sugar cane annually and this segment alone could produce over 4,000 jobs, while thousands of employment â€Žwould be generated at plant and at an indirect level. BUA is serious and is ever ready to surprise Nigeria and Nigerians in its current efforts of becoming a mega local sugar producer and first sugar exporter in the countryâ€, he added.
BUA Group according to Yaro, remains committed to partnering with the government in ensuring the success of the backward integration policy of the sugar industry as well as in its drive to resuscitate and develop other areas of the Nigerian agricultural sector.