By Maureen Okon
Abuja – The National Sugar Institute (NSI) of India and the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), on Wednesday signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the establishment of a Sugar Institute in Nigeria.
The MoU was signed by the Executive Secretary of NSDC, Dr Latif Busari, and the Director General NSI, Mr Narendra Mohan, at the India High Commission in Abuja.
Speaking at the event, Busari said that the collaboration with NSI would help address the challenges faced in the implementation of Nigeria’s sugar master plan which was launched six years ago.
He said that one of the challenges was the lack of the needed manpower to run the sugar be factories.
“As you all know that the Nigerian sugar master plan was lunch six to seven years ago, and it became clear that we have a serious challenge in terms of the technical manpower needed
“We saw that if we must succeed in establishing the sugar factories, the factories will be lacking in the areas of managing the factories and the farms.
“Then we saw the need to set up an institution that will rapidly develop the technical manpower that is needed in the sugar industry in Nigeria.
“So, when we decided on that we started looking for where we could leverage on the experiences that several nations have had already.
“We do not have to reinvent the wheel and looking round we came to two institutions, and one of them is the National Sugar Institute Kanpur, India and what you see today is the outcome of the interaction we had in past few months,” he said.
He added that when established, the Nigerian sugar industry would benefit from the huge market available.
“How it will factor into the Nigerian industries and energy is if you see the sugar master plan.
“We will be able to generate more than 400 mega-watts of electricity. We will produce more than 160 million litres of ethanol.
These are if we are able to completely implement the plan,’’ he said.
Responding, Mohan said that the agreement was basically for setting up an institute in Ilorin in Kwara.
“So we are going to give the first detail of the extraction such as what type of class rooms, laboratories, equipments and all that.
“The second part is about the training of the trainers because ultimately you do not have the faculty of your own at present.
“So we are going to begin the training sessions, and we have identified the faculty and initially 10 people are to be trained at the faculty in NSI.
“The third, which is the important, Nigeria is having few sugar factories and there is a huge gap in meeting the demand for, sugar.
“But the capacity building is one thing. We will give advice on capacity building and also address the challenge for the smooth running of the institute,’’ he said.
Speaking also, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Abhay Thakur said that India had been involved in the capacity building programmes in Nigeria for a very long time.
He said that one of those was done when the Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA) in Kaduna was set up in a similar fashion 50 years ago.
He added that the first commandant of the academy was a well-known Indian brigadier, whose name had gone down in Nigerian history.
He said that the Navel College in Port Harcourt was also built in a similar fashion with assistance from the Indian Navy and there is a whole range of capacity development programmes “in which India has extended its expertly.
“In fact just in the last three years under the India High Tech Capacity programme, 529 Nigerians have received training in various institutes in India in fields such as, Financial Management, ICT, Agriculture , Security, and Solar Energy.
“So this is a long-standing cooperation between our countries and I might even mention, for the benefit of our Indian delegates here that in the mid-70s and 80s we trained a large number of Nigerian doctors.”