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Nigeria and 2023 sugar self-sufficiency target

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Nigeria and 2023 sugar self-sufficiency target

Recently, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr.Godwin Emefiele, said that Nigeria spends over $100 million annually on sugar imports. These huge imports may truncate Federal Government’s target of local production by 2023. TAIWO HASSAN reports

Potential As the nation grapples with rising unemployment rate, there is no doubt that the sugar industry has the potential to create over 114,000 jobs for its citizens to help tackle the menace.

Particularly, the recent calls by the Federal Government to effectively implement the National Sugar Master plan (NSMP) was a welcome idea. Arguably, if well articulated and fully operational, it will not only create over 114,000 jobs, but also generate 400 megawatts of electricity through ethanol. Besides, the sugar master plan could also save Nigeria over N400 million annually from importation.

But, whereas, it will only require about $3.1 billion to implement the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) over the next 10 years. Indeed, in achieving the set objective, the Federal Government imposed high tariff on imported sugar in order to discourage its importation and paid attention to self-sufficiency in sugar production.

This, according to government, was part of the efforts to also discourage importation of sugar by signing a Backward Integration Agreement (BIA) with the four refineries that will enable them set up their various farms.

Local production

In fulfillment of the NSMP implementation, the Federal Government revealed that Nigeria’s local sugar production is expected to hit 1.7 million tonnes by 2023, from its current 30,000 tonnes. Acting Executive Secretary, Nigeria Sugar Council, Samuel Kwabe, said this while speaking on the activities of the Council in Lagos, recently.

He explained that Nigeria is also set to redouble its local sugar production to 60,000 tonnes this year, from the current 30,000 tonnes, based on the on-going massive investments in the sub-sector.

According to him, the NSMP framework is targeted to ensure that Nigeria achieved sugar sufficiency locally and boost trade investment. Similarly, he noted, the sugar master plan was also aimed at reducing unbridled importation and encourage local production in the country.

Kwabe explained that the NSMP is a 10-year document that will lapse in 2023, having kicked-off in 2013 under the then administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua and was meant to generate about 117,000 jobs permanent, residual and seasonal, if carefully implemented, at the end of the planned period.

Consumption

On the country’s sugar consumption level, The acting executive scribe said that Nigeria currently consumes between 1.3 million and 1.5 million tonnes of sugar in a year, adding that the sugar investments locally will phase out the continued importation of the product soon. He, however, admitted that based on the NSMP implementation, the country’s local production is supposed to have increased astronomically if not for the importation challenges.

He said: “As we started off, everything that we do is just to provide the foundation, presently, the country consumes between 1.3 million and 1.5 million tonnes of sugar in a year.

You made reference to the minister who said the country will be producing 200,000 tonnes of sugar in a year, if the NSMP is properly implemented, the country will be producing over 1.7 million tonnes of sugar per annum. “Right now, the country’s local production is over 30,000 tonnes and that is just from one sugar factory, the Golden Sugar Estate, Sunti, Niger State.

The Sunti project is expected to go into production by the end of the year or early next year. Once that happens, there will be additional 60,000 tonnes and with the expansion programme of Dangote, we are hoping they will double what they produce this year. In probably three to four years now, we should be talking of about the 200, 000 tonnes you are talking about.”

Importation

However, at the foundation laying ceremony of the 12,000 hectres of land in Garin Chiroma in Gagarawa Local Government Area of Jigawa State recently, Emefiele rued that Nigeria is spending over $100 million annually for the importation of sugar, which can be grown in the country if concrete efforts towards self sufficiency in sugar production is allowed.

According to him, “Nigeria, today, spends over $100 million importing sugar whereas we can grow sugar in Nigeria.”

Emefiele said that the apex bank was ready to partner the Lee Group and Jigawa State government to ensure the establishment of a multi-billion naira white refined sugar cane factory that will generate N60 billion annually to the state.

He commended the Lee Group for investing in sugar production in Nigeria, nothing that, “by this initiative, you have helped in joining the Federal Government of Nigeria’s efforts towards ensuring that we achieve our goal of diver- sifying away our economy from oil into a very important sector, which is called agriculture.

“You (Lee Group) have touched the heart of Nigerians, you have touched the heart of the president, you have touched the heart of the Federal Government because through the clarion call of the president, you have answered that call and I can assure you that you will receive the needed support from government.

“On our part as CBN, I appeal to you to come over to us, whatever support you need to get this project on ground, so that in the next couple of months, we can come back and launch the programme, that support, I assure you today, you will get from the CBN.”

Conclusion

We cannot survive from continuous importation of this product. No doubt, the youths are suffering from unemployment, but the jobs are in the farms and not in the ministries. Nigeria has to go back to the drawing board to make agriculture attractive.

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