SUNTI (Industry, Trade & Investment Ministry Report) – The Nigerian Government has inaugurated a N45billion integrated state-of-the-art sugar project in Sunti, Niger State in the North-West of Nigeria. The project which is wholly owned by Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, (FMN), comprises 16,500 hectares sugarcane estate and mill as part of the Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment’s approved Backward Integration Programme (BIP) for the production of local sugar in line with the provisions of the National Sugar Master Plan.
Speaking during the inauguration on Tuesday December 9, 2014, the Minister of Industry, Trade & Investment, Olusegun Aganga said that the company has invested N16 billion, noting that the entire project is expected to be completed and commissioned before the end of 2016. He added that when complete, the project is expected to produce 100, 000 metric tons of sugar annually as well as create 15,000 direct and indirect jobs; generate 10 megawatts of electricity; produce animal feed and fertilizer as a by-product and save the country over $50m annually in foreign exchange.
According to him, the event which represents a major milestone in President Goodluck Jonathan’s economic diversification efforts has the implementation of the National Sugar Master Plan as an integral part of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP).
“Today is another historic day as it represents another milestone in the implementation of the National Sugar Master Plan, an integral part of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) which was launched by our President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in line with his Transformation Agenda. As part of the NIRP, we have developed the National Sugar Master Plan as one of the sector-specific policies to diversify the Nigerian economy because we were importing about 97 percent of the sugar we consume in this country,” he stated.
“We can produce sugar from sugarcane. We can also generate electricity, produce ethanol and animal feeds from the raw materials we use in producing sugar.”
Olusegun Aganga expressed satisfaction with the current level of implementation of the new Sugar Master Plan, saying the country is on course towards achieving economic diversification. He stressed that the Nigerian Government would continue to provide conducive environments and right incentives to attract and sustain investments across the country.
The Minister further observed that in 2012, President Jonathan approved the National Sugar Master Plan because for a long time, the country has relied heavily on the exportation of one commodity – crude oil, despite the fact that Nigeria is blessed with about 84 million hectares of arable land. He intensified that for decades, Government has instituted the wrong policy of exporting crude oil and using the proceeds to buy back refined petroleum products, thereby creating jobs for other countries.
While explaining that the current decline in the price of oil has reinforced the need for Nigeria to take proactive steps towards diversifying its economy through industrialization, he disclosed his present awareness on the progress which Flour Mills has made in terms of adhering strictly to the Sugar Master Plan.
Aganga added that although he has been receiving regular updates from the National Sugar Development Council and all the sugar companies, he still considers it important to see things for himself, espousing satisfaction with the level of investment and work going on there. He further revealed that having gone round the multi-billion-naira facility, he is confident that the company has fully embraced the new Sugar Master Plan and is fully implementing the Backward Integration Programme approved by the Ministry.
“One striking thing about the company’s BIP is that they are doing the sugarcane plantation side by side with rice production, thereby keying into commodity-based industrialisation and import-substitution. This is in line with the Federal Government’s strategies for diversifying the nation’s economy. We are on course towards achieving that and we will continue to provide conducive environments and the right incentives to attract and sustain more investments across all sectors of the Nigerian economy,” the Minister informed.
In his remarks at the occasion, the Chairman of Flour Mills Nigeria Plc, John Coumantaros commended President Jonathan and Olusegun Aganga for initiating and implementing the new Sugar Policy, adding that the company would continue to take advantage of government’s investment-friendly policies and incentives to invest more in the country. He described the day as awakening for them, insisting that they were proud because they have been able to invest and build something out of nothing through the Federal Government’s new sugar policy.
Industry, Trade & Investment Minister informed that due recognition ought to be given to President Jonathan and Olusegun Aganga for the courage and commitment to initiating the sugar policy and ensuring its implementation.
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