Ninety-eight per cent of the total amount of sugar consumed in the country is imported, the Federal Government has said.
According to the government, the country is only two per cent self-sufficient in sugar production, a development that has increased the cost of producing the commodity for mass consumption.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, while receiving delegates from Coca-Cola Company Limited at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday.
The Coca-Cola team was led by the President, Central, East and West Africa, Mr. Kelvin Balogun.
Adesina said, “As you look at the sugar market today, you have high cost of production of sugar and unreliability of supply. We have a situation where Nigeria itself is importing 98 per cent of its sugar and only has two per cent self-sufficiency in sugar production.
“If Nigeria is the second largest producer of citrus fruit in the world, it certainly must make 100 per cent fruit juice out of the citrus it produces. And this is in line with our policy on import substitution. We spend roughly $1 billion per year importing citrus and concentrates into Nigeria.”
Adesina called on Coca-Cola to invest in the cassava value-chain under the government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda, as this would help create substitute for sweeteners and citrus concentrates.
He explained that the country was blessed with enough potential to produce the commodities, and stressed the need for the firm to partner the Federal Government to reduce the importation of sugar and citrus concentrates. According to him, such initiative will boost the nation’s revenue and the agricultural sector.
The firm, the minister said, could partner the government to make cassava into starch, while sweeteners could be made from starch for industrial use, adding that Coca-Cola would need citrus syrup for juice production.
The minister condemned the high cost of sugar in the market, stressing that about 100,000 metric tonnes of the commodity and 150,000 metric tonnes of citrus used by the firm annually were being imported.
He, however, said the country had designed a sugar master plan aimed at replacing the imports and transforming sugarcane into sugar, but added that this might not immediately yield the desired result.
Adesina observed that government had gone into partnership with Cargil to set up a 15,000-hectare starch plant facility in Kogi State to produce 75,000 metric tonnes of starch annually.
Balogun assured the minister that his company would partner with the government in its own capacity.
“We, on a continuous basis, look forward to opportunities to enlarge the footprints of our local sourcing. All our juices come from outside, but since we have a local partnership here, which aligns with our strategies, we have to get together,” he said.
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