The Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Dr. Latif Busari has expressed the commitment of the council to reduce sugar importation in the country and achieve self-sufficiency by 2023 through the remodelling of Nigeria Sugar Master Plan initiative.
Dr. Busari said this while speaking to newsmen in Abuja, on Sunday, where he explained that the plan would create large number of employment opportunities and raise local sugar production to attain self-sufficiency by 2023.
The plan estimated that the country’s demand for sugar will be more than the 1.7 Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) mark by 2020, with the bulk of the investment capital coming from private investors. The plan will also help the country to establish 28 sugar factories of varying capacities and bring about 250,000 hectares of land into sugarcane cultivation.
According to him, the main challenges in sustaining the implementation of the Backward Integration Programme (BIP) plans are difficulties in land acquisition, community hostility, flooding of sugar estates by the release of water from Kainji and Jebba dams and the persistent smuggling of St. Louis and other packaged sugar brands into the country.
“Having identified the constraints and designed measures to contain them, the prospects for the effective implementation of the plan over the next five years are bright. Series of engagements with the operators are ongoing and the council is confident that the revised plans are realistic and achievable,” he said.
Busari, however, noted that the solution would be the implementation of a more robust monitoring and feedback mechanism as well as intensified interactions with relevant stakeholders to engender interventions.
He added, “The combination of the new guidelines with the actions that government and relevant agencies will be taking will result in a greater commitment by operators and ultimately, more sugar projects and substantial increases in local sugar production levels.”
Speaking on the integration programme, the secretary hinted that the first phase of the BIP will run from 2013 to 2018 while the second phase will kick off from 2018 to 2023.
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