NIGERIA IS ADVISED TO BEGIN LOCAL SUGAR PRODUCTION
BY OMOKHUALE PUAH
Nigerians are the largest consumers of sugarcane in Africa, following South Africa and Nigeria is yet to grab the benefits of sugarcane, which generates N2.5 trillion every year.
This statement was attested by the African Development Bank (AFDB) President, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Saying that Nigeria produces two percent of its requirements, which is estimated at 1.7 million tonnes while 98 percent of the commodities are imported.
They pointed out that, despite the FGs interventions through the provision of incentives to create an enabling environment for the convenience of inventors, such as 10 per cent import duty and 50 per cent levy on imported raw sugar, zero per cent duty on machinery and spare parts by companies and others, have shown that Nigeria spends N200b for the importation of sugar, as they consume about 1.43 trillion metric tonnes of sugar, every year.
In the statement of Dr. Adesina, the sugar sub-sector is capable of creating job opportunities for several millions of Nigerians and serves as a revenue source for sugarcane farmers.
The Director of Policy, Planning Research and Statistics of the National Sugar Development council (NSDC), Mr. Hezekiah Kolawole, said that “sugarcane can provide an alternative source for electricity in Nigeria, because it has the ability to generate 411 megawatts of electricity and create 11700 jobs but complained that it has been neglected in Nigeria”.
He said that “Sugarcane can be used to produce fuel ethanol, sugar and for the generation of electricity in the host of others; which includes production of food seasonings and preservation. It could also be used in the production of chemicals for pharmaceutical, leather and other industries”.
Mr. Kolawole pleaded with the government to adopt sugarcane as a raw material, for generating electricity and production of industrial goods, so as to help solve the problems of electricity and production of industrial goods.
According to The Coordinator, Agribusiness and Youths Empowerment of Community of Agricultural Stakeholders of Nigeria (CASON) and the Managing Director, Universal Quest Limited, Mr. Sotonye Anga, “there is need to commercialize sugarcane production across Nigeria and emulating what other successful sugarcane economies and in other to do this, ruling out a deliberate sugar policy and stating its plan of action so as to implement the master plan, would be the very best interest of Nigeria”.
He further said that it would be very good if Nigeria completely stops the massive importation of sugar by giving a replacement with local sugar, it would help to reduce the pressure on the naira, as so much is spent on sugar importation in Nigeria and save the level of Nigeria’s spending which would also help in creating jobs for more than millions of Nigerians.
Mr. Anaga also said in his words “we need to return to the basis and do the right things. We need to completely stop the importation of sugar, rebuild sugarcane industries, enable our farmers to begin commercial sugarcane production and support our agricultural businesses to go into deliberate sugar product refinery.
“Knowing that there are businesses for them, makes them to know that there is a guaranteed market for them, which gives them reason to remain stable in sugarcane production, with an existing capacity to turn the quantities of sugarcane into finished products. This would enable Nigeria have different sugar products for both local and even foreign consumption.