The National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), has reiterated its commitment to accelerate the development and growth of Nigeria’s sugar industry towards attaining self-sufficiency in the sector.
The Executive Secretary of NSDC, Mr Latif Busari, said this at the council’s end of year media chat on Tuesday, in Abuja.
Busari said that though the council could not immediately meet the 1.7 million metric tonnes annual target of local sugar production, it was moving closer to the set goal.
The council’s 10 year plan estimates that the demand for sugar will breach the 1.7 million metric tonnes (MMT) mark by 2020, with the bulk of the investment capital coming from private investors.
Busari, however, expressed regrets that meeting the target was hindered by the effects of economic recession that affected the country in 2016.
He said: “The way we are going, we will not be able to hit the 1.7 million target set out, but we should be close to about a million metric tonnes of sugar per annum.
“Going from near zero to making about 1.7 million tonnes in 10 years is a tall order.
“When we set out, it was an ambitious target that we set for ourselves and it was deliberately so because they say if you are aiming for the top of a skyscraper, aim for the sky.
“Because if you cannot get to the sky, you will be able to get to where you want to get to.
He explained that the momentum gained in 2013, 2014 and 2015 in attaining the goal went down with that economic recession.
“Most of 2017, we tried to get revived and as at last year, we were back to our rhythm, but we do not pray to have another recession by 2020, because it will be a disaster for all of us,’’ he added.
He further said that expansion carried out by some sugar factories and the inability of some other plants to come on stream as scheduled contributed to the challenges.
“Part of the challenges is that for about six months, some of the equipment were held up in the ports, and that of course backtracked into the timing.
“There were issues clearing them, and when they were eventually cleared, the gridlock at Apapa Wharf also caused further delay,’’ Busari said.
He, however, expressed optimism that the factories would be revived from the first quarter of next year to boost production.
“We are hoping that the Lafiagi Sugar factory in Kwara should come up by first quarter of 2020.
“Also the upgrading and expansion of the Savannah Sugar company, which also affected the plant, is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2020.’’
He added that when they come on stream, the sugar factories would enhance the local production of home grown materials for sugar processing, rather than importing.
Busari also said the development would create more job opportunities for the unemployed.
According to him, the council will focus on developmental targets to ensure that sugar projects in the country are making the desired progress.