By Joy Odigie
Benin – The National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) says Nigeria needs about 250, OOO hectares of land for sugarcane cultivation and 28 factories to attain national self sufficiency in sugar for food and industrial use.
Executive Secretary, NSDC, Dr Latif Busari, made this known at a Sugar Sensitisation workshop organised by the National Sugar Development Council, Southern Region, held in Benin on Thursday,
He said Nigeria had the potentials to become a net exporter of sugar if the capacities of the existing sugar plants were enhanced, new plants established and sugarcane outgrower farmers supported through provision of credit facilities and basic infrastructure.
Busari said sugar was one of the key components of the agribusiness and agro-allied sector which Nigeria had a comparative advantage in, going by its vast arable land.
He recalled that in 2010, the council came up with the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) to ensure that the country attained self sufficiency in national sugar requirement over a 10-year period.
Busari said the master plan was to ensure that local sugar production was increased, more employment created, forex on sugar and ethanol importation saved and local demand for sugar and ethanol met.
“We are targeting 500, 000 metric tonnes of sugar production before 2023,’’ he said.
In his address, Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo commended the sugar council on how far it had implemented the NSMP.
He said Edo would take lessons from the sugar industry to develop its agribusiness sector, especially its oil palm industry.
Obaseki described the workshop as an opportunity for the state to expand her knowledge base in its quest to make agriculture the mainstay of the economy.
“We are one of the states endowed with agricultural resources. We believe that agriculture is what will take us to our Eldorado, especially investment in oil palm and rubber.
“We want to cultivate our land based on what crops will do best on them,’’ the governor said.
He urged the council to prioritise manpower development which he said was currently lacking in the sector.
The workshop was entitled “The Emerging Challenges in the Implementation of the NSMP towards the Realisation of National Self-Sufficiency in Sugar. (NAN)