From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government on Tuesday launched $73 million intervention fund for irrigation, to boost the Sugar infrastructure integration programme.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, disclosed this to State House Correspondents, Abuja, after the signing of an agreement between the government and the operators of the at the formal commissioning of the sugar infrastructure intervention programme titled, “Presidential Intervention On Irrigation Infrastructure to Accelerate Sugar Backward Integration Programme Projects”, at the State House.
He explained that: “This morning I represented the President at the formal commissioning of the Presidential project on irrigation infrastructure. The intervention is the setting up of a $73 million intervention fund for irrigation for operators of the Sugar backward Intervention Programme.
“The goal is to support the development of irrigation infrastructure on 10,000 hectares of sugar plantations located in six sites in Numan (Adamawa State), Sumti (Nigeri State), Lafiagi (Kwara State), Bacita (Kwara State) as well as Toto and Tunga, both in Nasarawa State.”
The Minister said funding for the programme would come from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria is also involved in the provision of required funding for the project as well,” he added.
Adebayo revealed that the aim of the programme is to increase Nigeria’s sugar yield in line with its quest of becoming self-sufficient in Sugar production.
“The aim is to increase significantly the sugar yield so that we can work within the National Sugar Development Plan master plan, with a view to Nigeria becoming self-sufficient in sugar production and possibly become a net exporter of sugar thus saving the country the large bill that it presently incurres in foreign exchange for the importation of sugar,” he said.
The Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, on his part expressed delight that the country is now moving in the right direction towards actualising her dream of becoming self-sufficient in sugar production.
He highlighted that sugar has a value chain that can yield more for the country, thus boosting the Nigerian economy.
“Out of the 21 institutions or organizations that were licensed to produce ethanol only one is actually producing ethanol and one of the easiest ways to produce ethanol is through sugarcane so you can now understand the importance of this,” he said.
On his part, the Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Mr. Zacch Adedeji said the intervention was part of government’s determination to provide an enabling environment for private investments to thrive and flourish in the country.
“Preliminary activities, including identification of the specific project sites for each operator which include framework for design and engineering services for the in-field and bulk water supply systems, project management and maintenance specifications, adoption of a business model and costing, among others have been concluded long before the formal commissioning of this laudable initiative”.