The Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Lagos Branch, Otunba Femi Oke, has called investors in the sugar industry to collaborate with AFAN in order to achieve Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP).
Speaking with Daily Sun in a telephone interview, Oke said the collaboration would help to solve the current land issues hindering investors from producing sugar as a result of refusal of some community leaders to release land for sugarcane cultivation.
He added: “Most of the investors should collaborate with All Farmers of Nigeria (AFAN), which is the umbrella body of all commodities farmers in agriculture. There is no farmer that won’t come from a community and AFAN has been liaising with some of these community leaders in assisting to release some of their lands to AFAN, which many have complied with.
“For instance, Lagos state has been getting land in some states like Osun and Oyo.
We are saying governments still need to strengthen their efforts with AFAN.
Government and investors will achieve a lot if they can bring AFAN on board, the association is ready to align with them. We will now tell them that there are lands everywhere which they can access and if this is being done government will not have any problem. There is nothing they can achieve if AFAN is not brought in.”
He said that with what is happening in agricultural space definitely Nigeria would achieve the metric tonnes of sugar required, adding that the required metric tonnes to meet up may not be as at when due now even if “we stumble and crumble this year, next year would not be the same, we will surely arrive our destintion”.
Meanwhile, Director General, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Emmanuel Cobham said the policy is good but the players implementing are few with Dangote and some other small players in the team.
He urged the National Sugar Development Council to develop policy that allow for more job creation, allow local players to get more useful investors into the field. He said those in agrochemicals can be involved, there would be more jobs created, the market will expand and if the market expands, then it would be good for the economy.
According to him, sugar production companies are there to make profit and everybody want to monopolised market. He said there is need to think less of the monopoly of market and think more of satisfying the need of the customers base and then thinking more about creating employment.
He added: “The blame might not be put on customs for the sugar importation unless there is an evidence that allow importation of sugar. It could be coming out from illegal routes because when one thing is banned, it does not take the normal routes to come in.
“And when it does not take the normal routes to come in, it means there are people who are helping them to smuggle it into the country. Once you place a ban, it means it becomes a scarce commodity. The customs should be aware on how the commodity is coming into the country and it means that we have very porous routes. We should know we have people who are in the market to circumvent the rules because they want to make money.”