Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
The federal government has urged both local and foreign investors in bio-factory sugar manufacturing in the country to avail themselves of the opportunity in bio-technology for agricultural development in the country.
This, the government said would go a long way to support food security and provide raw materials for the nation’s agro based industries.
Speaking at the official inauguration of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) sugarcane bio-factory in Ilorin, Kwara State, the Executive Secretary, NSDC, Mr. Latif Busari, said such patronage would not only help them get best quality cane seeds, but help the industry and the nation at large to move to next level of development.
Busari, who said that application of biotechnology in agricultural development in Nigeria was necessary to achieve food security and provide raw materials for the nation’s agro based industries, added that the sugar industry was part of the larger picture.
He also said government with the facility in Zaria, Kaduna state and Ilorin, Kwara state, were capable of contributing their quota to attainment of national sugar master plan goals.
The NSDC boss, who said that both bio-factories could produce one million seedlings annually, added that their facilities and same procedures could be used for rapid multiplication of many other crop seedlings such as banana/plantain, pineapple, citrus, cut flowers etc.
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar, emphasised the need for crop productivity enhancement in order to achieve rapid development of the nation’s local sugar industry.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Sunday Akpan, the minister said that, “What this means is that if we aim at large scale production of sugarcane we would consequently require large quantity of quality planting materials.
“And for this purpose the conventional system of propagation will not only be inefficient but also less desirable as a result of possible pathogenic infection which affects yields.
“Tissue culture techniques (or micro- propagation), a biotechnology approach, can overcome these problems by providing mass uniform, disease-free plantlets within a relatively short time frame.
“Adoption of this biotechnology will have positive twin effects on both our local sugar industry and national economy.
“The bio-factory presents an opportunity to solve a critical problem facing sugar estates and sugarcane growers by providing more productive and sustainable planting materials.
“It is a proactive approach to alleviating problems of sugarcane production in Nigeria.
“The NSDC sugarcane bio-factory now employs biotechnological techniques in producing clean sugarcane plantlets to serve its clientele across the country.”