ANALYSIS: Buhari commissions N50bn Sugar plant enabled by Jonathan’s industrialisation policy
By Titus Agbo
Last Thursday President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the N50 billion Sunti Golden Sugar Estate which is said has capacity to employ up to 10,000 people directly.
Speaking in Sunti in Mokwa local government area on Thursday, Buhari said the magnitude of investment in the sugar estate is a clear manifestation that the policies on economic diversification of the government is attracting the right kind of support and engagement.
“With N50 billion invested into Sunti Golden sugar Estate, this makes it the largest Agro-allied investment in Nigeria today. The sugar factory will produce 100,000 metric tonnes of sugar annually, employ 10,000 people directly and a network of 3,000 small scale outgrowets of sugarcane. ”
This is a good development because it shows manifest continuity in governance being that the establishment of the plant is an off-shoot of a sugar master plan developed by the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The Sugar Estate, located on the banks of River Niger, in Mokwa, Niger state, is a subsidiary of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc. Head of Corporate Communications, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, Samuel Iboroma, described the factory is one of the biggest agricultural investments in Nigeria which will set Nigeria on the path to self-sufficiency in sugar production.
Jonathan’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, while giving details of his achievements in 2013 said that the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) which was approved by the Federal Executive Council in 2012 was expected to raise the country’s local sugar production to a self-sufficiency level.
Aganga had said then, “Nigeria is among the top five importers of sugar and only produces about three per cent of domestic consumption.
“However, on September 19, 2012, the Federal Executive Council approved the NSMP and the implementation commenced in January 2013.
“The NSMP has stimulated investments of $3bn thus far. The NSMP is targeting the production of 1.7 metric tonnes of sugar; creation of 117,181 direct jobs; generation of 411.7MW of electricity; and total forex savings of up to $565.8m annually from savings from sugar production and fuel importation.”
The N50billion sugar mill built by Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc in Niger state is one of the beneficiaries of the policy. The then minister Aganga officially conducted the ground-breaking ceremony that kick-started the building of the new plant in 2013.
The sugar estate features 17, 000 hectares of irrigable farmland and a Sugar mill that process 4,500 metric tons of sugarcane per day.
At full capacity, the estate is expected to produce 1 Million tons of Sugarcane which roughly translates into 100,000 metric tons of sugar yearly.
Enclosed within a 35-kilometre dyke, the production facility area is 15,100 hectares, with a cane area that features a maximum output of 10, 000 hectares.
The dyke provides flood protection from the River Niger. Over N1 billion was invested in the state-of-the-art irrigation system that will ensure the efficient cultivation of sugar cane, with infrastructure that includes drain pumps, pump stations, and a power grid.
The farm at peak production will provide direct employment for about 10,000 people yearly, and impact up to 50,000 people indirectly, including 3,000 small-scale out growers who will be cultivating sugarcane to feed the mill.
The estate has brought infrastructure benefits to the surrounding community, with 28 communities in a total taking advantage of a new 30-kilometre road, plus expansive road networks that provide a variety of access routes to the homes of the indigenes. Drains, culverts, and flood-protection walls have also been constructed.
Analysts believe it is a good thing that Buhari is continuing with policies started by the transformation agenda of the Jonathan administration in such areas as industrialization and agriculture.
According to Aganga, Jonathan’s Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) “is our nation’s first comprehensive, integrated and strategic roadmap to industrialisation. The NIRP has identified strategic industry groups where Nigeria already has comparative advantage, with a view to increasing capacity and production in the near to mid-term.”
Such policies have paid off in such areas as cement manufacturing where the nation has attained self sufficiency as well as in agriculture with marked increase in the local production of such commodities as rice.
Agannga then said: “We are rigorously implementing the backward integration policy used in the cement industry in other sectors. On the development of Micro, Small and Medium-scale Enterprises, the minister said the government had developed the National Enterprise Development Programme.
This programme, he added, would help to take industry to the grass roots in all the states of the federation and link the SMEs to others outside Nigeria. He said currently (as at 2013), there were 32 million Nigerians employed by the MSMEs, adding that the programme would increase the employment figure by 16 per cent in the next three years.