• Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Sugar sector reforms target 2m metric tonnes by 2032

Sugar sector reforms target 2m metric tonnes by 2032

Kamar Bakrin, the executive secretary/CEO of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), says the recent reforms in the sugar sector were targeted at the production of two million metric tonnes by 2032.

According to him, the country’s drive for self-sufficiency in sugar production was the most important element of the second phase of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP II) and a top priority for the council.

Speaking in an interview with the Commerce and Industry Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CICAN), he said, the initiative will not only enhance the nation’s self-sufficiency in sugar production but also create substantial employment opportunities, fostering economic growth and development across the country.

“You are going to see a lot of employment because each of the sugar operators have very aggressive expansion plans which we have seen and we have also engaged them on what they need to do.

“You will see a lot more economic activity both in terms of logistics and a lot is going on in the sugar-producing estates, and it will translate into jobs for the local communities, for suppliers, for contractors because everybody is now scrambling to move. They are laying irrigation pipes, they are completing other infrastructure, they are expanding their factories and rehabilitating them,

“I am talking about thousands of jobs. These are good quality jobs. Some of them are factory jobs. Yes, some of them are farm jobs, and some of them are seasonal. But there are quite several factory jobs that will be created that are sustainable. And the economic impact on that is going to be very significant,” he said.

Barkin said that based on the mandate and new targets given to major sugar operators by the council, the council had embarked on an aggressive expansion that will create high-paying jobs for Nigerians in the coming months.

He said the economic impact from the current expansion drive would be significant for the economy, pointing out that the council has identified 14 new greenfield sites, ranging from 6,000 to 18,000 hectares, across the sugarcane belt, with high viability for sugar production. He said these sites had not been previously cultivated and required further evaluation to determine their full viability.

The NSDC boss also disclosed that through some regulatory interventions by the council, sugar operators had agreed to pool resources towards the development of host communities, a move that would further tackle current hostilities towards the operators.

He emphasised the need for a comprehensive approach to addressing community hostilities, a long-standing challenge in the sugar industry, highlighting key strategies incorporated into the NSMP II to ensure community acceptance, these include educating communities about the economic benefits of sugar production, allocating a portion of capital for community development projects, and mandating sugar companies to recruit residents for various positions, thus, fostering greater community involvement and engagement.

“We are mandating a specified amount of capital that must be dedicated to community development, roads, schools, clinics, whatever makes sense for that community. We are also mandating a certain amount of recruitment that must come from the host communities, as well as the catchment areas for field operatives, junior staff and workers, and so on, as well as for managerial staff. And we have already engaged the operators around this and we have gotten their buy-in. We also insist that a certain quantity of the sugar produced must be by out-growers sourced from the local communities.”

He said the council had good engagement with governors of host states to create a friendly environment for the investors, “I think we have met with all governors of states in which we are active. We have met with all the state governors, including Nasarawa, Adamawa, Kwara, and Niger states. We have had very fruitful discussions. We have gotten their commitments. Not only have they given verbal commitment, they have delivered.