Nigeria spent a total of $433 million on the importation of 1.531 million metric tons of raw sugar in 2020 compared with $382 million spent on 1.363 million tons in 2019, according to the Executive Secretary of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Zacch Adedeji.
“We have a consumption level of 1.7 million metric tons. The refining capacity we have in the country today is in excess of 3.5 million metric tons. So, we are doing well.
“We require 250,000 hectares. Today, we are a little bit below 150,000 hectares of acquired land, which we are trying to irrigate and grow cane,” Adedeji said.
Adedeji spoke during a courtesy call on the NSDC by the delegates of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi, on Thursday in Abuja.
He said Dangote Sugar, BUA, Golden Sugar Company and KIA Group refine 3.5 million metric tons of sugar in Nigeria annually, which is two times Nigeria’s consumption capacity of 1.7 million metric tons.
Adedeji said they have also acquired roughly 150,000 hectares of land out of the required 250,000 hectares to grow cane and produce raw sugar locally.
However, he acknowledged that much of the raw sugar used by sugar companies was imported – an area the country was not doing so well.
“But in the estate, which is in the backward integration programme, that is where we are lagging behind. That is going to be the focus of the new phase. We will focus more on growing the cane in our country.”
He put the score of the backward integration projects by the local refiners at 40 per cent and noted that the agency was still open to new investors.
“That is we are opening the new phase, that is why we are extending the period to make sure we incorporate as many willing investors as possible so that we can grow what we eat and eat what we grow,” he said.
The executive secretary explained that efforts were previously focused on refining but his administration was paying a closer attention on growing cane at local estates.
In 2013, the former administration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan launched the National Sugar Master Plan with a view to making Nigeria a sugar producing and exporting country.
There has been a mixed performance of the master plan, but Adedeji said it succeeded in stopping the importation of refined sugar.