As part of its efforts towards ending Nigeria’s dependence on importation to meet its sugar demands, the Kwara State government has commended BUA Group over its $300 million investment in sugar production in Lafiagi, Kwara State.
The Governor of Kwara State, Mr Abdulfatah Ahmed, stated that more investments such as these are required to end the nation’s dependence on sugar import, stressing that Nigeria has the comparative advantage to be a large producer and exporter of the commodity.
He noted that the company’s move was a step in the right direction to end importation of sugar in the country, while also expanding the industrial base of the State’s economy.
He explained that Nigeria continues to be a large sugar consumer, maintaining that the high consumption rate is largely attributed to the nation’s increasing population as well as continuous growth in food processing sector for which sugar is a major ingredient.
He urged foreigners to leverage on the available opportunities to invest in the nation’s sugar industry to end importation of the commodity, adding that that Nigeria has the capacity to meet its local demand for sugar.
The Governor stated that Nigeria’s raw sugar import in 2015 was estimated to be 1.345 mtpa which is expected to rise to about 1.7mtpa.
He said; “This is because of the absence of competitive alternatives to meet the demand for local consumption. This is rather worrisome considering the fact that Nigeria is endowed with the manpower, raw materials and excellent climate condition to produce enough sugar to meet local demand and of course export.”
According to him; “It is imperative to change the statistics in sugar production not to only save us from wasting our scarce foreign exchange but also generate wealth and enhance economic growth. We have identified agriculture as a major strategy to create wealth and jobs for the youths which we believe will be felt in the medium and long-term. We are putting the policies and structures in place for an agro-led economic diversification.”
The Governor during the flag off ceremony of BUA Group’s flag off ceremony of its sugar nursery plantation in Lafiagi, Kwara State, said the sugar sub-sector is an important sector due to its ability to contribute largely to solving unemployment, development of other subsidiary industries and its significant impact on the rural economy.
He said, “I am pleased to be here to flag off the 2016 cane planting season which represents another positive step in the nation’s resolve to end importation of sugar in the country and also expand the base of the State’s economy. I want to commend the management of BUA group for its recent investment in Lafiagi Sugar Company which will produce about 1.5 mtpa as well as employ about 6000 people directly and another 19000 indirectly. This investment will significantly reduce youth unemployment in this area and bring more prosperity to the State. Let me use this opportunity to assure the management of BUA of our maximum and cooperation at all times. We pledge to continue to provide a conducive environment to support local and foreign investment in the State.”
Earlier in his speech, the Executive Director, BUA Group, Mr. Kabiru Rabiu, said BUA is making a total investment of over $300 million in the sugar company which will cover the sugar mill, its refinery, the ethanol and power plant as well as the complete Agric aspects of the project.
He pointed out that the plant will produce over 140,000 tonnes of pure refined white sugar, 25 million litres of ethanol and generate over 35 MegaWatts of electricity using bagasse as a feedstock.
“Our planned 500 hectares nursery development is unprecedented in the history of Nigerian sugar industry. The achievement of this important milestone, we intend to break yet another record by replanting over 3000 hectares of land next year,” he maintained.
He noted that the company will establish a fully integrated sugar mill with accompanying refinery that will have to capacity to crush about 7,000 tonnes of cane per day, explaining that the excess of electricity generated by the company would help in reducing the acute shortage of electric power supply in the State as it will be sold to the Disco and put onto the grid.
“Our quest for the industry leadership in the Nigerian sugar space is evidenced by not only our investment in the sector but also by our efficiency. BUA Sugar Refinery Limited in Lagos scored the highest capacity utilisation amongst the three refineries in the country in the last two years.
He added that the company’s desire and commitment to ensure local sugar production in Nigeria also led to the acquisition of 50,000 hectares of land in Bassa, Kogi State for its second sugar plantation.
“The company has a diversified business group with interests in foods and infrastructure that include sugar refining, rice production and milling, edible oil refining, cement manufacturing shipping, ports operation and iron and steel,” stressed.