Zacch Adedeji, executive secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) says the Federal Government is leveraging the sugar master plan to reduce poverty and unemployment in the country.
Adedeji spoke during the ground breaking of N300 billion Brent Sugar Plantation and Mill, on Tuesday, in Iseyin, Oyo State, where he disclosed that 6,000 hectares of land would be irrigated from a canal to be fed by water Ikere Gorge Dam established by the Federal Government in 1983.
The Brent Sugar Plantation and Mill sits on 11,000 hectares of land along Iseyin-Ogbomoso road.
Adedeji said the Brent Sugar investment was a practical demonstration of the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari towards building a productive country. He added that the government was doing everything to encourage the private sector to invest in projects that could take Nigerians, particularly the youths, out of poverty.
“One of the major tools that we have and which can help us take the youths out of poverty is the sugarcane-based industries. We must commend Brent Sugar Limited for deeming it fit to establish this kind of project in this environment. This is not only for Oyo State, but for Nigeria.
“The mantra of President Buhari is that we must eat what we grow and grow what we eat. This is one practical,” he said.
Speaking also at the event, Akinwunmi Adesina, the president, African Development Bank (AfDB), said industrialisation was the pillar for economic prosperity.
Adesina, represented by his senior special assistant on industrialisation, Oyebanji Oyelahan (professor), said the establishment of Brent Sugar was a path to industrialisation and economic prosperity. He urged the people to cooperate with the company, saying there was a lot to benefit as a community and nation.
Martins Akinola, the CEO at Brent Sugar Limited, said the total investment that would be committed to the project was about N300 billion over a period of five years.
“For the sugarcane plantation, the company is investing nothing less than N120bn for the 11, 000 hectares that we are going to plant. We are going to phase it on a yearly basis.
“In 2023, we are going to plant 1,000 hectares and we are hoping that the following year, we will be doubling it on a yearly basis.
“For the integrated mill and the refinery, that is going to cost about N30bn because it is going to have coal generation which will be generating electricity,” he said.
Akinola said they would be cultivating 11,000 hectares for sugarcane plantation, adding that 5,000 will be from the company and 6,000 by out-growers. He said that company would be generating 30 megawatts of electricity using BAGAS and employment opportunities for no fewer than 10,000 people.
The CEO said that 300,000 litres of ethanol would be generated from the waste from the refinery. He added that part of their social responsibilities to the Iseyin community would be the building of a model school and award of scholarships to indigent students.
He appealed to the Oyo State government to make the road to Ikere Gorge Dam, which would serve irrigation purposes to the company, motorable.
Akinola thanked Buhari, Adedeji and Governor Seyi Makinde for their support which had helped the company attain the present state.
“We are expecting, by the special grace of God, to be into production and milling in the next two years here in Iseyin. We have technical partners from abroad. The equipment and maintenance are going to be handled by our partners from India. About eight of them will join us from February next year.
Governor Makinde, who was represented by his deputy, Bayo Lawal, said the state government was committed to infrastructural development of the state. Makinde said that such was evident in the interconnectivity project of the administration aimed at connecting the five zones of the state.