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Council urges more private sector investment in sugar industry

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Abuja
25 January 2023   |   3:54 am
Executive Secretary of National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Zach Adedeji, has called for more private sector investment in the product’s production to make Nigeria become a top producer in Africa soon.

[FILE PHOTO] Dangote Sugar Refinery

• Says country to lead Africa in product’s production soon
Executive Secretary of National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Zach Adedeji, has called for more private sector investment in the product’s production to make Nigeria become a top producer in Africa soon.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja, Adedeji noted that with approval of the second phase of the Nigerian Sugar Masterplan beginning this year, the country is on the path to achieving the feat.

The NSDC boss informed that while the country consumes two million metric tons of sugar yearly, it needs about 300,000 hectares of irrigated land to plant sugarcane to meet the yearly consumption. Consequently, Nigeria, while making efforts at producing what it requires and even exports, is temporarily importing raw sugar and refining same.

According to him, his agency has embarked on aggressive private sector business driven model to grow the sugar industry.

“What we need right now is the private sector business driven model that can grow the Industry,” he said.

To achieve this, Adedeji noted that the investor must own a refinery to avoid encountering the same problem the country has in the petroleum industry, where the operators do not own refineries to refine extracted crude oil.

Accordingly, NSDC held that if one can invest in the establishment of a refinery, he would be allowed to participate in the backward integration programme.

He recalled: “As at then, our expected consumption rate was 1.7 million metric tons with Dangote coming up with a 1.5 million capacity refinery.”

The executive secretary submitted that within 10 years, the country has doubled its capacity in refining to about 3.8 metric tons.

“We have effectively stopped importing refined sugar. We only import raw sugar that is currently being refined in Nigeria,” he clarified.

Adedeji described sugar refining as a huge investment, which has gulped more than $3 billion to establish its refining chain in the country.

On market restriction, he explained that only qualified people are given quota to import raw sugar, while they plant sugarcane.

“That is the reason we do not give anyone licence to import raw sugar except you have refinery which has a plan towards our backward integration programme.

“As at today, Dangote has acquired up to 30,000 hectares of land, Flagmill with about 35,000 and Kiagroup with 20,000 hectares. This is the level we are now”, the chief executive added.

Admitting that Nigeria’s quest to attain self-sufficiency in sugar production in the shortest possible time has been both challenging and rewarding, Adedeji assured Nigerians that the Council is keen in realising the country’s goals in the sector.