Nigeria’s unending quest for sugar self-sufficiency

21.12.2017

The National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) has announced that the country’s quest to attain sugar self-sufficiency of 1.6m metric tons by 2018 have been dashed. TAIWO HASSAN reports

Potential

As Nigeria faces rising unemployment rate, it has been said that the country’s sugar industry presents a golden opportunity to create over 114,000 jobs.

The Federal Government has prioritised the country’s sugar sector as one of the key areas in its bid to achieve backward integration programme in the sugar industry.

Indeed, this can be seen from the recent call by the Federal Government to vigorously pursue and effectively implement the National Sugar Master plan (NSMP).

However, industry stakeholders had stated that if the sugar master plan is well articulated and fully operational, it has the potential not only to create over 114,000 jobs in the sector, but also capable of generating 400 megawatts of electricity through ethanol for the country’s power industry.

In addition, the sugar master plan could also save Nigeria over N500 million annually from sugar importation.

However, it will only require about $3.1 billion to implement the NSMP over the next 10 years.

High tariff

In order to achieve the set objective, the Federal Government imposed high tariff on imported sugar to discourage importation and paid more attention to its self-sufficiency policy in sugar production.

This, according to the government, is part of the efforts to discourage importation of sugar by signing a backward integration agreement with four refineries that would enable them set up their various farms locally and meet local demand.

Monitoring Group

Indeed, a Sugar Industry Monitoring Group (SIMOG), a peer review mechanism set up by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), has been working round the clock by touring the various sugar refineries in the country to ascertain the progress made in line with Nigeria’s quest to achieve BIP in the sugar industry.

The team, which comprises of all players in the industry as well as representatives of the NSDC and Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, visited other BIP sites being run by BUA, Dangote and Golden Sugar, for assessment, recently.

They gave a pass mark based on the progress seen on the BIP sites. The monitoring team said that the country was working assiduously to meet self-sufficiency in sugar production.

Shortfall

Recently, the Executive Secretary of NSDC, Dr. Latif Busari, while reviewing the activities of the council in 2017 and making projections for 2018 in Abuja, said that the council had reversed the 2018 sugar projection for the country to 1.58 million metric tons from 1.6m metric tons initially projected in the master plan.

He stated that the shortfall was on the heels of continued importation of the commodity, which is affecting government’s projection on the sugar master plan.

The council’s executive secretary also stated that the council, along with relevant monitoring groups, had concluded the review of the backward integration programme implemented by participants, adding that a new sugar import quota for participants would be released in January based on approval by Mr President.

Consumption

Nigeria currently consumes between 1.3 million and 1.5 million tonnes of sugar yearly. This is because the sugar investments locally is yet to attain optimum level.

However, when fully on stream, importation of sugar into the country would soon be phased out.

Industry stakeholders admitted that if not for the slow pace the NSMP’s implementation was going, the country’s local production is supposed to have increased astronomically.

Importance of NSMP

The NSMP framework is targeted to ensure that Nigeria achieves sugar sufficiency locally and boost trade investment.

Similarly, the sugar master plan is also aimed at reducing unbridled importation and encourage local production.

The NSMP is a 10-year document that will lapse in 2023, having kicked-off in 2013 under the then administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua and meant to generate about 117,000 jobs.

Last line

For industry stakeholders, the biggest challenge facing Nigeria’s sugar sufficiency programme is the massive importation of the product, in spite of high tariff imposed by government.


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