The Federal Government in line with its determination to diversify the nation’s economy through the formulation of favourable policies, provisions of technical support, creation of a business-friendly environment and provision of incentives to attract more investments has launched a $73m infrastructure intervention to drive development and accelerate the growth of the sugar sub-sector.
Speaking at the formal commissioning of the sugar infrastructure intervention programme titled, “Presidential Intervention On Irrigation Infrastructure to accelerate Sugar Backward Integration Programme Projects”, at the State House, Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari said the goal of the intervention was to support the development of irrigation infrastructure on 10,000 hectares of sugar plantations located at six BIP sites in Numan-Adamawa State; Sunti-Niger State; Lafiagi-Kwara State; Bacita-Kwara state; Toto and Tunga-Nasarawa State.
President Buhari who was represented at the event by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo further stated that the aim of the intervention was to significantly improve the country’s performance on cane yields as well as to reduce the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the industry’s progress in achieving self-sufficiency.
” Consequently, this strategic intervention will enable the country’s leading sugar producers; Dangote, BUA and Flour Mills to expand capacity and capitalize on the import substitution opportunity within the sugar market to further reduce the country’s import bill” He stated
On the importance of the intervention to Nigeria’s economy, Nigerians and investors in the sugar sector, President Buhari noted that the implementation structure considered enhancing rural jobs and hence the recommendation that 10% of the total allocation to each BIP operator would be reserved for Sugarcane outgrower farmers within the community.
According to him, this is strategic, humane and sustainable in the thought process and the Federal Government is certain that local communities would be inclusive which is an effective approach to project implementation.
In his remarks, the Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council, NSDC, Mr. Zacch Adedeji said the intervention was part of government’s determination to provide an enabling environment for private investments to thrive in the country.
According to Mr. Adedeji, preliminary activities, including identification of the specific project sites for each operator which include framework for design and engineering services for the in-field and bulk water supply systems, project management and maintenance specifications, adoption of a business model and costing, among others have been concluded long before the formal commissioning of the laudable initiative.
Goodwill messages were delivered by strategic stakeholders in the sector, including the Governor of Nasarawa State, Alhaji Abdullahi Sule who is also the Chairman, Forum of Sugar Producing States.
Governor Sule who said Nigeria has both the human and natural resources to be among leading sugar producing countries in the world, stated that “all critical players in the sector must wake up and redouble their efforts.
” We all have to roll up our sleeves and match our words with concrete actions to enable us achieve our desired objectives in the sector” He added