GOVERNMENT ministers have announced an ambitious sugar production programme aimed at producing 1.7m tonnes annually as part of a plan to reduce overseas purchases and save $56m currently being spent on imports.
Nigeria is one of the world’s largest sugar imports as consumption far exceeds production but in a bid to save foreign exchange, minister of industry, trade and investment, Otunba Richard Adebayo, said domestic output will be stepped up. Speaking while hosting the management of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), he assured them of the government’s readiness to render more support to investors and other key players in the sector.
He told the NSDC led by its executive secretary, Dr Latif Busari of the desire of the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to work with all stakeholders in the industry to address all its challenges. Otunba Adebayo said that the Buhari administration had done a lot in the area of agriculture and non-oil sectors, stressing that sugar self-sufficiency would further support such initiatives.
In addition, Otunba Adebayo expressed optimism that Nigeria would soon be in a par with nations like Brazil and Mauritius, who are currently diversifying into ethanol energy production through modern sugar technology. He added that the government would also ensure full implementation of the 10-year national sugar master-plan adopted by the federal government in 2012.
Dr Busari in his presentation had enumerated some achievements of the current administration in the industry, among which he said included job creation and industrialisation. He said that part of the plan was to create 114,000 jobs in the sector, listing Dangote Sugar Industry, BUA International Group and Golden Sugar Company as the three major operators in the industry, accounting for about 99.8% of output.