Ban on packaged sugar imports yields N500bn investment

The decision of the federal government to place a ban on the importation of fully processed and packaged sugar into the country has lured operators of the private sector to inject over 500billion into the Nigerian sugar industry.

The over N500 billion private sector investments in the sugar sector according to the federal government, was in direct response to the initiatives of the National Sugar Master plan.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga stated at the 2014 Sugar Forum in Lokoja, Kogi State, that the investments cut across 11 states of the federation – Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Adamawa, Kogi, Taraba, Jigawa, Kwara, Niger, Kebbi and Sokoto states.

He said within two years of the implementation of the NSMP, sugar prices had nosedived to an all-time low, while refining sugar capacity utilization had moved up from 60 per cent to 75 per cent.

The minister listed the interventions in the sugar sector under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to include trade instruments, “which give domestic products access to the local markets, and the N2bn Agricultural and Infrastructure Support Fund set aside at the Bank of Agriculture for investors in Government’s Backward Integration Programme.”

Aganga said the federal government had also created a N10billion funding pool, managed by the Bank of Industry, with  a N5bn matching fund by the National Sugar Development Council, among other intervention measures.

While reiterating that imported packaged sugar remained banned, he said: “So far, significant progress has been made in the sugar sector as a result of Government’s policies.  We are proud of what we have achieved so far, but more excited about what we can achieve as we go ahead.  The momentum we have achieved in the sugar sector is irreversible. We have started a journey that is difficult to reverse.

“The NSMP was developed a core component of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan to fundamentally transform the sugar sector to create jobs, generate wealth and enhance economic growth.  We’re gradually realizing the targets under the plan.”

The minister added: “The case to develop the sugar sector in Nigeria is clear, and the sugar master plan is our roadmap. By implementing a full scale sugar programme, Nigeria can produce over five million metric tonnes  of sugarcane, which far exceeds the current domestic production of about 1.3 million metric tonnes per year.

“This means that, not only can we produce enough sugar for consumption, we can in fact become a net exporter into the sub-region and the wider international markets.  Under our current programme, we are on track to producing 1.7millions tones by year 2020, and to exceed this afterwards this is the first President that has had the vision and courage to embark on this journey  of diversification.”

Speaking at the forum, the Executive Secretary, NSDC, Dr. Latiff Busari, called on importers of banned packaged sugar to come and produce in Nigeria under the NSMP, noting that this would create jobs for Nigerians and grow the economy. While commending President Jonathan and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment for their foresight and courage with respect to the implementation of the NSMP, he said, “the implementation of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan has been very successful so far, we will therefore not allow anything to derail the process.  Imported packaged sugar remains banned.”

“We have nothing against any particular brand of packaged sugar. What we are saying is that importers of sugar in retail packs should bring their equipment to Nigeria to produce under the plan,” he added.

Governor of Kogi State, Captain Idris Wada, affirmed that the NSMP was a success story, disclosing that the state had already provided 250,000 hectares of land for sugar production.

“Nigeria has a great potential to provide enough sugar to meet local demand and for export.  The journey so far indicates that the implementation of the sugar master plan has been a success story.  My administration is ready to support any investor by facilitating the provision of land for industrialization and sugar production,” the Governor said.

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