BusinessDay

Saro Africa group to invest $125m in ethanol, sugar production in Nasarawa

One of the leading agribusiness value chain and consumer goods companies in West and Central Africa, Saro Africa group is set to build a $125 million sugarcane plantation, specifically for the production of ethanol and sugar in Doma and Nasarawa Local Government Areas of Nasarawa State.

The investment is for over a five-year period, which focuses on the cultivation and production of sugarcane, and processing of sweeteners and ethanol, aimed at promoting import substitution, value added export and affordable consumer goods for all core businesses within the group.

The sweetener value chain is one of the six focus areas for Saroafrica and the first investment has been made in GHAP in this value chain, thereby deepening its presence with the opportunity to explore the production of Ethanol and Sugar from the Sugarcane value chain.

Already, the multi national company had acquired a 15, 000 hectares of land in Nasarawa and Doma Local Governments Areas for the actualization of its goal.

The move by the group was significant, as part of its efforts to strengthen its ethanol production capabilities and other agro derivatives in the country.

It is on this basis that, the Saroafrica group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nasarawa State Government to formally invest in the project, and possibly venture in generating power in the state.

The agreement between the two parties, which took place in Abuja Thursday, at the Nasarawa Governor’s Lodge, is expected to boost the economy of the state, create direct and indirect jobs, increase the income of households, generate expected revenue, training opportunity for the people among others.

Speaking shortly after the signing of the MoU, Governor Abdullahi Sule, said Saroafrica has already made its mark in the production of ethanol in Nigeria, with the company agreeing to set up sugarcane plantations in Udege, Nasarawa Local Government Area and Idadu, in Doma Local Government Area.

“Ethanol production has been responsible for more than 40,000 jobs in the United States, or more than $1.3 billion in household income.

“Ethanol production directly and indirectly adds more than $6 billion to the American economy each year by boosting surrounding economies.

“The best way to produce ethanol is from sugarcane. Brazil is one of the biggest in the world today. Brazil produces close 40m tons of sugar annually.

“About 40 to 50 percent of that is devoted to producing ethanol. Same thing with the US and Thailand. In Nigeria we are actually breaking new grounds in the area altogether,” the Governor stated.

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Governor Sule said, his administration will continue to provide condusive environment that will attract investors into the state.

He noted that, his administration has worked hard to ensure relative security across the state, as well as provide necessary infrastructure such as the 25km Mararaba-Udege road and the ongoing Idadu/Agbashi road.

While acknowledging the role the community plays in the success of such investments, the Governor assured that, no agreement with an investor will be signed without the tacit approval of the community.

He said, his administration is only building a formidable foundation for the economic growth of the state and the only way to make the initiative sustainable, is to involve the community.

“Governors will come and go. With due respect, senators will come and go. House of assembly members will come and go. But the traditional rulers and the communities are there. And that’s why we always want to set up a foundation that is sustainable,” he stated.

He emphasized that, local communities must always be part of any agreement with an investor to avoid sabotage saying, “we from the state government, we have one responsibility to do and God so kind, we have done that.

“If it was 4 or 5 years ago, if they ask Saro to go into that area, they wont be in a hurry to come, because of the security challenges nobody will be in a hurry to come. Today, they can come.

“Then the next is the access road going into that particular community Udege. Today, God so kind, we have been able to construct the road. A similar situation is taking place in Idadu/Agbashi where you are going, Idadu, Agbashi.

“The government on our own side, we have provided the infrastructure for you to in and out. We have done our best to provide you with enough security to go in and out. But more importantly, the community have accepted you. That is the reason why every agreement that we are going to sign, I want the communities to accept,” Sule said.

Rasheed Sarumi, Group Managing Director, Saroafrica Group, thanked Governor Sule, for creating enabling environment for his company to venture into Nasarawa State.

Sarumi particularly appreciated the State Government for ensuring relative peace that is encouraging investors coming into the state, as according to him, that was one of the reasons Nasarawa was selected for the project.

The traditional ruler of Doma Chiefdom, the Andoma of Doma, Aliyu Onawo Ogah, assured both the state government and Saroafrica that, the benefiting communities, will take responsibility towards ensuring the success of the project.

“We are giving you the assurances that we will always be there for you in all the intentions of government. It’s just one of the many others that we expect to come.

“Rest assured that we will support the intentions and programmes of government. We will receive all of such beautiful intentions, we will be jointly responsible for these projects that are coming. And make sure by the grace of God, they meet their intentions to bring good to the people” the Andoma stated.