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Raw sugar imports cost Nigeria N2 trillion+

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By Mercy Kelani

Ten-year old National Sugar Master Plan fails to yield success.

Nigeria, despite its commitment of over N170 billion to improvement of self-sufficiency in sugar production, has spent over N2 trillion on importation of raw sugar amidst the National Sugar Master Plan that has lasted over a decade. The National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) firstly surfaced in a 2008 Federal Government directive requesting the development of a roadmap to attain self-sufficiency in production of sugar within the shortest possible frame of time from the National Sugar Development Council.

According to the plan, the estimated demand for sugar in 2020 will attain the 1.7 million metric tonnes mark. In 2012, according to data from the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that the federal government imported N238.6 billion worth of sugar into the country. It kept rising until it hit the highest figure in 2021, N425 billion. These figures show that only little has been achieved in reducing sugar imports and improving infrastructure that will drive self-sufficiency.

FG recently renewed the plan due to previous failure.

Based on the actual blueprint of NSMP, within the 10-year period, Nigeria was supposed to have ensured establishment of 28 sugar factories with diverse capacities and cultivation of sugarcane on about 250,000 hectares of land. There has been a recent renewal of the plan by the federal government owing to the failure to put an end to massive raw sugar imports with the proposed period of ten years. As at 2022 after expiration of the initial NSMP, Nigeria ranked third largest sugar importer in the world.

Partial achievement of the NSMP, according to the federal government, is owed to the emergence of Dangote Sugar Refinery, Golden Sugar Refinery and BUA Sugar Refinery. Complementing this statement, Executive Secretary and Chief Executive of the National Sugar Development Council, Zacch Adedeji, stated that relevant stakeholders in the country have been able to ensure the refining of 3.5m metric tonnes of sugar. However, in a meeting in February, he declared that the goal of cutting down sugar imports was not being met.

Buhari launched a N30 billion infrastructure intervention.

To enable speedy achievement of the goal of cutting down sugar imports, Adedeji told the sugar companies that subsequent quota allocation of raw sugar would cease to rely on the size of refining capacity but the extent of compliance with the BIP policy by operators. The council executive further said that the NSMP has made many local companies to increase their investments by significant rates in the backward integration programme to drive more sugar plantation farming and processing.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2022, realizing that bridging the gap in achieving sustainable production is not happening anytime soon, launched an infrastructure intervention worth N30 billion to enable visible development in the sugar sector. The intervention was aimed at boosting Sugar Backward Integration Programme projects for irrigation infrastructure on sugar plantations of about 10,000 hectares of land situated at six BIP sites — Numan-Adamawa State, Lafiagi and Bacita-Kwara State, Sunti-Niger State, and Toto and Tunga-Nasarawa State.

Continuous surge in prices of sugar affected the plan.

Head of Media at the NSDC, Yunusa Williams, affirmed that investor apathy has had negative impacts on the projected result of NSMP. He said the programme has to be holistic enough to examine factors responsible for the existing import of sugar into the country. President of the Premium Bread Makers Association of Nigerian, Emmanuel Onuorah, in his comment, attributed import of sugar to continuous increase in the price of sugar. He said the government has failed in provision of an enabling environment that would guarantee success of the sugar master plan.

Related Link

NSDC: Website

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