The Federal Government, at the weekend, commended the massive investment of N64 billion and thousands of jobs created by Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc ((FMN Group) on sugar production at Sunti Golden Sugar Estate, Sunti, Mokwa Local Government Area of Niger State.
The commendation was made by the Minister of Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, while on tour of three sugar companies for the implementation of the National Sugar Master Plan, NSMP, geared towards self-sufficiency in sugar production in the next couple of years.
Adebayo said the company has done well to transform the area and contributed immensely to the economy, especially moving towards self-sufficiency in sugar production and consumption. He said: “I am very happy to see such facility, the number of people that are employed.
President Muhammadu Buhari on June 12, 2019, made a promise that he would like to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty and hoped that that can be done in the next 10 years.
Efforts like this go a long way to reduce unemployment. “Nigeria desires to be self-sufficient in sugar, we have been able to do it in cement, and we are trying to do it in sugar as part of backward integration and as time goes on we are desirous to see that we don’t import sugar, to get more for our use and also to export it as well because we want to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement so that we can export to other countries.”
The Minister further stated that soon the Federal Government will come out with a comprehensive statement on the NSMP after the tour of the three sugar companies in Nigeria.
“After visiting all the plants of the three companies who are part of the implementation of the National Sugar Master Plan, NSMP, I will call a meeting where we will discuss and make a comprehensive statement because the whole idea is to see how to get Nigeria to a position of self-sufficiency in sugar.
On the issue of border closure is in this direction on my going around to see how far we have gone and to see the level of work to be done in order to get to where we are self-sufficient”, he said.
The Chairman, FMN Group, John Coumantaros, said the company is poised to upscale its sugar production to 30, 000 metric tonnes in 2020, and also will be spending N34 billion over the next 10 years, and support the community, infrastructure in the area, and massive job creation that would surpass the current 5, 000 employees to 10, 000 employees and 50, 000 indirect jobs.
Coumantaros also disclosed that Nigeria consumes about 1.3 million metric tonnes, which the current production between Sunti and Savannah sugar companies is about 60, 000 to 70, 000 metric tonnes, with a plan to get to self-sufficiency will be within the period of five to seven years.
This self-sufficiency is we are saving foreign exchange, this factory we are providing 50-100, 000 jobs, and we are bringing agriculture and industry together, and tremendous amount of development in communities on infrastructure which other businesses can grow.
“We have 3, 000 hectares of land under cultivation, we are harvesting 17, 000 metric tonnes, and next year 30, 000 metric tonnes, and we have successfully managed the flood season. We have made excellent progress and we pray the success continue.
FMN delivers its promises and we will continue to deliver promises. “The host communities are benefiting because we are employing 5, 000 people for the five community schools, we are looking forward to providing electricity in the area, and this is the future, this is revolutionizing, dramatically changing not just Sunti community but Niger State.
“This is one of the biggest investments in Niger State in the agricultural industry. There is always challenge as an investor but you need to preserve. The challenges include on how to get the best yields and we are getting better.
The Minister is here in Sunti, and will be at Lafiagi and Savannah Sugar to see how to implement the plan”, he said.
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, who was part of the Minister’s entourage to Sunti Golden Sugar Estate, Mokwa, Niger State, said Nigeria will soon in couple of years to come be self-sufficient in sugar.
He said: “We are excited and I believe that in the next couple of years we will be able to produce most of the sugar we consume in Nigeria. What we are looking at is to see how we can do the same trajectory we had in cement we now transfer it to sugar.
“Even though sugar is a little bit more difficult, you have to do with the weather, land, irrigation and there are quite a lot of things that are not the same with cement.
I see Nigeria achieving self-sufficiency in sugar. However, Dangote acknowledged that land, good water irrigation system and weather remain major factors in the sugar industry. He also assured that he will continue to invest in sugar despite challenges highlighted, “We have been trying but I am sure as soon as we get enough land to grow we will continue to grow sugar and continue to invest.”