FG Seeks Govs’ Support for Sugar Masterplan Implementation

Daji Sani in Yola

The federal government yesterday sought the support of governors of sugar-producing states in the country to revitalise the sugar sub-sector and implement Phase II of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan, saying the plan required the inputs of all critical stakeholders to succeed.

The apex government revealed the plan to increase its national sugar production from 1.7 million metric tonnes to 1.8 million metric tonnes per annum in the next 10 years.

Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Mr. Zacch Adedeji made the appeal when he visited Nasarawa State Governor and Chairman, Forum of Governors of Sugar Producing States, Alhaji Sule Abdullahi in Lafia yesterday.

The federal government had in 2013 began the implementation of a 10-year master plan to revamp sugar sector.  The policy plan code-named the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) has four major objectives which are for Nigeria to attain self sufficiency in sugar production, stem the rising tide of sugar importation, create job opportunity for Nigerians and the generation of electricity and production of ethanol for industrial purposes.

The first phase of the plan is expected to end in the first quarter of 2023.

Speaking at the session with the governor yesterday, Adedeji said state governors as landlords of sugar projects in their respective domains have contributed to the modest success so far recorded in the industry.

He commended the forum of governors of sugar producing states for creating a safe and enabling environment for sugar operators to go about their business activities without hitches such as perennial disagreements over land ownership between host communities and operators, communal hostilities and other associated challenges.

He said the forum has contributed to the peace enjoyed across communities hosting sugar projects across states.

Speaking on the current status of the master plan yesterday, Adedeji said given the importance of the sector to Nigeria’s economy, and considerable success recorded in the last 10 years, President Muhammadu Buhari recently approved the phase 2 of the master plan which is expected to run for another 10 years beginning from 2023.

“We are quite pleased with the invaluable contributions of the forum you chair to the faithful implementation of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan. We’ve made considerable progress in critical segments of the NSMP, especially as it relates to the refining component of the plan.

“Our next plan of action is to replicate the successes recorded in the area of sugar refining in our field and agricultural operations. As you rightly know, the NSMP isn’t about sugar production alone, we count largely on it’s ability to take millions of our people out of poverty, develop infrastructure and improve the economic status of communities hosting sugar projects. We are quite optimistic about our projections in the sugar industry.

“We shall rely heavily on the use of verifiable data and modern technology in to drive the phase 2 of the master plan. The sugar sector holds tremendous opportunities for Nigeria and Nigerians in terms of job creation for our youths, increased revenue and general economic prosperity for the nation”.

At the inspection of the 8035-acre Dangote Sugar Refinery cane plantation in Numan, Adamawa State Friday, Adedeji it would require 250,000 hectares of land to grow more sugarcane to achieve the production target of 1.8 million metric tonnes.

Adedeji said NSDC “is seeking investors who would join the cane-growing end of the process to fill raw material sourcing gap.

“To meet our 1.7 million metric tonnes consumption need, we need to cultivate 250,000 hectares of land (with sugarcane). Today, we have less than 200,000 hectares. So, we are open for investors.

“We have the refineries. Now, we must go to the field and produce the cane. Sugar is made on the field, because sugar production depends on the quality of the cane that you have,” he said.

He added that apart from the big time sugar producers led by the Dangote Group and some other big players, the NSDC is looking to outgrowers who are mostly individual farmers, to grow sugarcane and supply to the various refineries.

Adedeji said Nigeria has in the last 10 years raised its refinery capacity to beyond refining infrastructure need, but that the country still has work to do to raise sugarcane production to feed the refineries.

According to him, this will be done in the next 10 years of a fresh sugar production masterplan that President Muhammadu Buhari approved recently.

NSDC’s executive secretary said committing his council to ensure self-sufficiency in sugar production by the country in no distant future was sure.

He said the country’s total sugar consumption today “is 1.7 million metric tonnes. By the end of the next 10 years, we want to be in a position to produce 1.8 million metric tonnes, meaning that we want to produce more than we consume in the country.

“Nigeria currently does not need to import refined sugar. Under Nigerian Sugar Materplan, we have the Backward Integration programme that we are implementing in which we have had huge achievements in the last 10 years (first phase). Today, we only import raw sugar which we refine locally.

“Where Nigeria still has challenges which are expected to be tackled in the Phase II of the Sugar Development Masterplan that the president has just approved is producing enough quantities of sugarcane for the existing sugar refineries around the country.”

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