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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
Food sufficiency: FG, NAERLS give conflicting reports
Despite Federal Government’s claim that food production has increased across the country, the 2017 wet season National Agricultural Performance Survey report revealed otherwise. TAIWO HASSAN reports
Indeed, the study highlighted challenges that affected food production during the 2017 wet season farming to include: climate change, absence of government input support, insecurity, kidnapping and poor support for agricultural extension.
The study carried out by the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, domiciled at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, noted that the constraints affected all the subsector of agriculture including crops, livestock, fisheries, aquaculture, and agro forestry value chain.
The study, which was launched in Abuja by the Minister of State Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri, noted that although there was increase in land area for food production, but this only resulted in 35 per cent increase in livestock and aquaculture.
While presenting the report in Abuja, the Executive Director, NAERLS, Prof. Mohammed Othman, lamented that the level of mechanisation in Nigeria is still very low, as over 34 states are unable to access tractor services in 2017, due to high cost of hiring services.
Besides not buying tractors for farmers, Othman said the survey indicated that 28 states could not access tractor services for their wet season farming due to unavailability, resulting into high cost of land clearing activities.
The report identified maize as the most cultivated crop in Nigeria, accounting for 5,960,920 hectares, producing 10, 813,980 metric tonnes (MT) compared to 12,107,580MT in 2016, representing a 11.96 per cent increase in national total output.
However, the minister blamed NAERLS for withholding the research results of the survey, which has been conducted annually for the past 29 years, saying that the report ought to serve as a planning tool for farmers, investors and other relevant stakeholders.
He said: “We are very sad that for the past 29 years, we have always produced this type of document done with painstaking survey conducted across the country, but never formally presented to the public. Any research conducted but not presented to the public, as far as I’m concerned, will not be able to achieve the purpose for which it was conducted.
“You can imagine that for 29 years, this very highly respected institute, domiciled in ABU, has been producing this survey, but never formally presented to the public.”
He also criticised the survey as being one-sided, due to its concentration on only the wet season farming, noting that Nigeria did so well in its dry season farming.
Lokpobiri noted that for over two years of being a minister, he never received a copy of any of the previous surveys from NAERLS, decrying over-dependence on data generated by foreign organisations, which might not represent the true situation of Nigeria.
He noted that investors had trooped to the ministry to establish farms and production facilities, but were discouraged due to lack of data.
He therefore stressed the need for NAERLS to ensure annual public presentation and commercialisation of the report to generate more revenue for government.
Indeed, the study showed that in the wheat sector, farmers were facing tumults challenges and this is fueling unrest.
Particularly, the report said that Nigeria lost fortunes of wheat production amid post-harvest losses, lack of quality seeds and other inputs, as well as non-availability of farming implements.
Realistically, these factors hindered Nigeria’s quest to achieve the set target of 1.5 million tons wheat production earmarked for 2018 as many of the farmers were forced to abandon their hectares of wheat farms.
Speaking on the issues in a chat with New Telegraph, a member of Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN), said lack of improved seeds had forced farmers in Gombe State to abandon their initial plans of cultivating 10,000 hectares of wheat farms in the state.
“Our cultivation is limited by lack of quality seeds and farming implements. Most of our farmers complained that the available seeds have been planted and replanted for over five years. This has resulted in deterioration in terms of crop quality, as the crop yield will not be good,” he said.
He lamented that good quality seeds, when available, were not enough for distribution to the farmers during the period under review.
“Initially, Lake Chad Research Institute brought us foundation seeds, but the problem we had then was that the seeds, which were of good quality, were not sufficient. Those farmers who were able to plant the crop early enough harvested three to four tons on each hectare of farmland, while those that planted late realised between one and two tons per hectare,’’ the source said.
Ironically, many Nigerians have been deceived under the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari that the country’s agric sector is recording unprecedented achievement, but the realities on the ground depicts the contrary.
Katsina government committed to agricultural mechanization – DG media
The Director-General, Katsina Media and Publicity, Malam Ibrahim Muazzam says Katsina State government remains committed to agricultural mechanization to ease farming activities in the state.
Speaking to newsmen in Katsina, the DG Media said the state government has already procured 225 latest model tractors from an Indian firm, Springfield Agro Ltd.
He said the tractors will be distributed to farmers through the Tractors Owners Association to enhance the farmers productivity.
Malam Ibrahim Muazzam said already, over five dams across the state were under rehabilitation to facilitate dry season farming which will boost agricultural productivity.
He said the state government also supports farmers in the production of staple foods like rice, maize, wheat, millet, sorghum and guinea corn through the provision of fertilizer at subsidized rates and extension services to farmers
FAO, USAID to train 4,700 vet experts
A United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-FAO partnership has with on year succeeded in training over 4,700 veterinary health professionals in 25 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The partnership has been working to strengthen the capacity of developing countries to manage outbreaks of diseases in farm animals.
The FAO-provided technical trainings according to a statement, covered a gamut of key competencies, including disease surveillance and forecasting, laboratory operations, biosafety and biosecurity, prevention and control methods and outbreak response strategies.
About 3,266 vets in Asia, 619 in West Africa, 459 in East Africa, and 363 in the Middle East benefitted according to the statement.
They are on the front line of the effort to stop new diseases at their source.
“Over the course of this relationship we’ve learned that there are many mutually beneficial areas of interest between the food and agricultural community and the human health community,” said Dennis Carroll, Director of USAID’s Global Health Security and Development Unit.
“A partnership with FAO not only enables us to protect human populations from future viral threats, but also to protect animal populations from viruses that could decimate food supplies. It’s not just a global health, infectious disease issue, but also a food security, food safety, and economic growth issue,” Carroll added.
“Some 75 percent of new infectious diseases that have emerged in recent decades originated in animals before jumping to us Homo sapiens, a terrestrial mammal. This is why improving adequately discovering and tackling animal disease threats at source represents a strategic high-ground in pre-empting future pandemics,” said Juan Lubroth, FAO Chief Veterinary Officer
“A proactive approach is absolutely critical, and for that, the world needs well-trained, up-to-speed professionals — biologists, ecologists, microbiologists, modellers, physicians and veterinarians — which is why the United States’ consistent support for building up that kind of capacity has been invaluable,” Lubroth said.
Population growth, agricultural expansion and environmental encroachment, and the rise of inter-continental food supply chains in recent decades have dramatically altered how diseases emerge, jump species boundaries, and spread, FAO studies have shown.
USAID support under the GHSA umbrella is helping FAO engage with 17 countries in Africa and Asia to strengthen capabilities to detect and respond to zoonotic diseases.
Beyond the risks posed to human health, animal diseases can cost billions of dollars and hamstringing economic growth.
The most damaging outbreaks of high impact disease in recent decades all had an animal source, including H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza, H1N1 pandemic influenza, Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
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