The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, says the apex bank remains committed to development of agriculture and allied products in the country.
Emefiele said this at the inuaguration of the Sunti Golden Sugar Estates Sunti in Mokwa Local Government Area of Niger State.
The CBN governor said any individual or company who wants to go into agricultural and agro-allied productions should count on the support of the bank. He said the CBN invested over N25 billion into the Sunti Golden Sugar Estates through a consortium of banks at a single digit interest rate repayable for a period of 10 years.
Emefiele expressed satisfaction on the level of work, saying it is in tune with President Muhammadu Buhari’s notion that Nigerians should produce what they eat and eat what they produce.
Earlier, inaugurating the Sunti Golden Sugar Estates, President Muhammadu Buhari said the sugar factory project was timely as the country makes giant strides out of recession and the economy continues to show considerate progress. President Buhari said that one of the cardinal objectives of his administration was to look inward and focus on the country’s natural endowments and Africa and other non-oil sectors for inclusive growth and developments.
He noted that the level of work and magnitude of investment being witnessed is a clear demonstration that his administration’s policies on economic diversification are attracting the right kind of support and engagement.
Speaking at the event, the Chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria, owners of the Sunti Golden Sugar Estates, Mr. John Coumantaros, said the sugar factory is a strategic investment designed to accelerate the production of sugar in Nigeria. He added that the factory, which would save the country about $100 million in foreign exchange annually is aimed at achieving self-sufficiency in the production of sugar.
Coumantaros who commended CBN and its governor for the support in making the sugar estate a reality said the era of Nigeria solely depending on crude oil for foreign exchange is over with the inauguration of the largest sugar factory, which is poised to overhaul the entire agriculture sector in the country.
Located at the bank of River Niger, Sunti Golden Sugar Estates comprises a 17,000 hectares of arable farmland and a sugar mill that processes 45,000 tonnes of sugar per day.
The Sunti Golden Sugar Estates at its peak will provide direct employment for about 10,000 people yearly and impact up to 50,000 others indirectly, including 3,000 small scale out-growers who will be cultivating sugarcane to feed the mill.
The estate at full capacity is expected to produce 1 million tonnes of sugar, which translates into 100,000 metric tonnes of sugar annually.