Nigeria has achieved only 40.3 per cent of the target set for attainment by the first half of the 10-year lifespan of her sugar master plan.
Speaking at the mid-term implementation review of the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) held in Abuja yesterday, the Executive Secretary of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Dr. Latif Busari, revealed that the poor performance of the key players in the Backward Integration Plan (BIP) contributed in the below average implementation record of the NSMP in the last five years.
The Federal Government had started the implementation of the NSMP in 2013 with the hope that by 2023, Nigeria would be self-sufficient in local sugar production, as well as huge job creation in the sector.
The key to self-sufficiency was gradual end to importation of sugar and to achieve this, the Federal Government rolled out incentives to Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, BUA Sugar Refinery Limited and Golden Sugar Company in July 2013 with concessionary five per cent sugar import levy and five per cent duty for raw sugar import.
The three sugar companies are expected to embark on backward integration of sugar production by locally growing sugar cane, producing sugar in the country and gradually phasing out raw sugar import.
However, Busari said mid-term review had shown that BUA scored 17 per cent, Dangote scored 45.8 per cent while Golden Sugar scored 58 per cent in the targets set in the backward integration plan, including number of projects, new sugar factories, land developed, land under cane, out-grower farms, sugar produced and job creation.
The NSDC boss also revealed that BUA produced zero tonnes of sugar out of the 15, 600 metric tonnes of sugar the company promised to produce during the period under review, Dangote produced 20, 200 metric tonnes, being 28 per cent of the 72, 000 metric tonnes it promised to produce, while Golden Sugar produced 800 metric tonnes, being one per cent of the 57, 750 metric tonnes the company ought to have produced during the period.
Despite the setbacks, Busari said nww investments valued at about N157billion was attracted to the sugar sector since 2013 with 7, 850 jobs, up from a total of 3,500 employed by all the refineries as at 2013.
He blamed the challenges the NSMP faced on lack of cooperation from state governments, community sabotage, insecurity and natural disasters.
“Many projects that would have raised the implementation profile of the NSMP were stalled by government and host communities’ unwillingness to give out land,” he said.