… Golden Sugar Targets 250,000mt Annual Production
In fulfilment of the federal government’s Backward Integration Programme (BIP) of the sugar industry, Nigeria has attained and exceeded the goal of 100 per cent local sugar refinement, shifting the focus now to closing the gap in local production of raw materials which is sugarcane growing.
The revelation was made recently by the newly appointed executive secretary of the National Sugar Development Council, Zacch Adedeji during a facility tour of the Golden Sugar Refinery, Apapa, Lagos.
Adedeji said Nigeria’s sugar master plan, which is now seven years old, has come a long way in moving the country to self-sufficiency in food production. He said before the sugar master plan Nigeria was importing refined sugar into the country. However, from the inception of the master plan till date, the country only imports raw sugar, and refines 100 per cent of her demand in Nigeria, which is a step in the right direction, based on the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan.
Adedeji further said, “On the issue of backward integration, which is the main focus of the master plan, we are moving in the right direction, albeit slow, due to many reasons, including a lot of capital, a long gestation period peculiar to the industry.”
He stated that the industry is half way through to achieving its master plan compared to the tenor of the plan, but the country is moving in the right direction. He praised his predecessors for building a solid foundation on which he is leveraging at the moment.
He disclosed that the country has a consumption rate of producing 1.5 million metric tonnes of sugar per annum, whereas the master plan has a target of 1.7 million metric tonnes by the end of the master plan in 2024.
He commended Golden Sugar’s commitment to the master plan, which he’s impressed about, and hopes that such commitment will eventually translate to backward integration. He further said Nigeria needs to move forward from its 100 percent refinement capacity to growing cane, which is an area that will provide much employment.
Speaking on the capacity to grow cane, the deputy chief operating officer of Golden Sugar Company Ltd., Sodiq Usman said he reckons that the industry’s current local materials production capacity is 5 percent, which translates to a 95 per cent deficit in the production of sugar cane to meet local demand.
Usman, while speaking to journalists said Golden Sugar as a subsidiary of Flour Mills of Nigeria, has come far since signing on to meeting the backward integration programme (BIP) since 2013. He said the company has identified and developed a piece of land in Niger State, built a sugar mill, built a sugar estate with the infrastructure that comes with it, investing N65 billion in that, and invested another $200 million in its refinery in Apapa.
He further said in terms of what the target is under the BIP, the company is committed to 250,000 metric tonnes in Niger State and Nasarawa. “From Golden Sugar’s perspective as a subsidiary of Flour Mills of Nigeria we have a target of 250,000 tonnes of sugar per annum,” He said.
He noted that players in the Backward Integration Programme were counting on the continued support of government and commitment of all the players in the industry to ensure that the expectations of government conveyed by the new executive secretary of the National Sugar Development Council gave comes to reality – that what government says is the agenda, they stand by it and the rest of the players stand by what they say they’re going to do — that the rules of the game are clear, transparent and followed by all the parties to ensure success.
“That’s what’s important for the industry in the medium to long term; otherwise we’re not going to meet our target,” Usman added.
The deputy general manager of Golden Sugar, John Maniatis wished Adedeji well in his new role as executive secretary of NSDC and expressed willingness to work with him to meet the target of Nigeria’s sugar master plan.
Remarking, Adedeji said the federal government remains fully committed to the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan because it’s the way forward to reducing unemployment in the country.
The Central Bank of Nigeria just last week listed sugar as one of the commodities to join the foreign exchange restriction list.
The Governor of the apex bank, Mr Godwin Emefiele in a statement while inspecting a sugar production facility, urged stakeholders in the economy to work together with the government in ensuring that these items are produced in Nigeria rather than importing them.
In 2015, the apex bank restricted 41 items from accessing foreign exchange, adding that the measure was to encourage local production of the items and conserve Nigeria’s foreign reserves.
Some of the banned items are rice, cement, margarine, palm produce, beef, vegetables, poultry and eggs, wooden doors and iron rods — including maize which was banned in 2020.
“We are looking at sugar and wheat. We started a programme on milk about two years ago. Eventually, these products will go into our FX restriction list,” Emefiele said.
He said CBN’s decision to place sugar on the restriction list is because “we spend $600 million to $1 billion importing sugar into the country annually”, and “we must all work together to produce these goods in Nigeria rather than import them”.