Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Infrastructure critical to achieving sugar self-sufficiency in Nigeria – NSDC Boss

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Ibrahim Ramalan
Ibrahim Ramalan is a graduate of Mass Communications from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. With nearly a decade-long, active journalism practice, Mr Ramalan has been able to rise from a cub reporter to the exalted position of an editor; first as Arts Editor with the Blueprint Newspapers before resigning in 2019; second and presently as an Associate Editor of the Daily Nigerian online newspaper. He can be reached via [email protected], or www.facebook.com/ibrahim.ramalana, or @McRamalan on Twitter.
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The Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council, NSDC, Zacch Adedeji has said that basic infrastructure and qualified indigenous manpower are essential requirements needed to fast track Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in sugar and ethanol production.

Mr Adedeji disclosed this during an oversight visit of members of the House of Representatives Committee on Industry to the recently commissioned Nigeria Sugar Institute, Ilorin, Kwara State.

Mr Adedeji, in a statement by Ahmed Waziri, Deputy Director, Public Affairs Division, NSDC, on Thursday in Abuja, listed the basic infrastructure as road, electricity and qualified indigenous manpower.

According to him, Nigeria has both the human and natural resources to become a net exporter of sugar and its numerous by-products.

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He emphasised that Nigeria, given its agricultural potential, had no business importing sugar for local consumption.

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He assured members of the committee of the council’s readiness to ensure that all sugar sector policies as enshrined in Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) were strictly complied with and implemented to the letter by investors and interested parties.

Mr Adedeji also listed insecurity, community hostilities, lack of access to land and natural disasters as some of the challenges confronting the sector.

“My dear honourable parliamentarians, the sugar sector occupies a significant place in the programme and economic diversification agenda of the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“It is a sector that holds numerous economic benefits for Nigeria and Nigerians. The sugar industry is a huge employer of labour; both skilled and unskilled.

“All hands must be on deck in our determination to grow the sector for the benefit of our teeming youth population who roam the streets in search of jobs,” he noted.

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Regardless of the challenges presently facing the sector, he said the Council, in partnership with key industry players, had resolved to collaborate and share useful information on how best to grow it.

He said that the government was trying its best to address issues related to insecurity across the country as seen in various special operations launched by the military and other security agencies.

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“Lack of access of land, multiple demands for compensation by land owners, communal hostilities arising from unresolved internal disputes, flooding and scarcity of foreign exchange are some challenges we are battling with in the sector.

“We have mapped out a number of strategies to address these problems holistically. On the issue of land, we are in touch with state governors, and they have shown their willingness to assist in that regard,’’ he said.

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On his part, the Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Industry, Dr Enitan Badru expressed the readiness of the National Assembly through his Committee to come up with laws to speedily address issues raised.

Mr Badru said that it would as well give other necessary legislative support to the council to achieve its desired objectives.

“Let us do our best to ensure that we put our dear country on the path of development and economic prosperity.

“The sugar sector has got a lot of potential that, if well harnessed, can make Nigeria one of the leading sugar producing nations in the world,” he said.

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