Fred Itua, Abuja
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Chief Niyi Adebayo, has said the Sunti Golden Sugar Estates, a N64 billion investment by Flour Mills Plc (FMN) will contribute greatly to ending Nigeria’s sugar dependence.
This is even as he commended the company for making the largest investment in sugar line with the Federal Government’s Sugar Master Plan anchored on backward integration.
The Minister who was on a facility tour of the FMN’s Sunti Golden Sugar Estates, in Mokwa, Niger State, also took the opportunity to harvest some sugarcanes on the over 17,000 hectares sugar production area. Adebayo said he was indeed happy to see the level of work that had been put in to ensure that in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s policy, Nigeria attains self-sufficiency in sugar production.
“My going around is to know how far we have gone and to know the level of work that needs to be done to attain self-sufficiency. “I am very happy to see a facility like this because of the number of people that are employed here.
“As we are all aware, President Buhari made a promise that he will lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty and that he hopes this can be done over the next 10 years.
“Efforts like this will go a long way in reducing the level of unemployment. Nigeria is working towards being self-sufficient in sugar, we have been able to do it in cement and we are trying to do it in sugar.
“As time goes on, we will not import sugar anymore; we will produce more than enough for our use and possibly export. “We also want to take advantage of the Africa Developmental Free Trade Area Agreement, to export to other African countries,” Adebayo said.
The Nigeria Sugar Master Plan was designed to attract over $1 billion annually in local and foreign direct investments and create an estimated 107,000 jobs over the first ten-year period.
Also speaking after the Minister’s tour, Chairman of the company, Mr. John Coumantaros, said that the company plans to engage over 60,000 Nigerians in direct and indirect employment over the next 10 years.
He said that the Sunti Golden Sugar Estates intends to invest in the people to create an avenue for other businesses to grow around the sugar production area. According to him, the company had earmarked N34billion to be spent over the next 10 years to develop the Mokwa community in Niger State.
He said the money would be used to build infrastructures like roads, schools and provide electricity.
“We will be spending about N34billion over the next 10 years in support of the community and development of infrastructure in the area, so this is a huge expenditure expected to create jobs and also give the people education to make their life look good.
“It’s a tremendous transformational move as we will be having about 10,000 employees for the factory and another 50,000 of indirect jobs around the area.
“We have already employed about 5000 people, we have got five community schools, we are working on putting electricity in the area and there is no future without development.
“This is revolutionising and dramatically changing not only the Mokwa community but Niger State because this is one of the biggest investments in the state in agriculture and industry,” Coumantaros said.
According to him, Sunti Golden Sugar Estates is the most significant investment of a Sugar Backward Integration Project (BIP) under the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP), with an investment of over N64billion.
Coumantaros also said the company had been adjudged by the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), as the most productive BIP, under the NSMP with a score of 58 per cent and as such would remain the first and only greenfield investor producing raw sugar. He urged the Minister to ensure that all operators were allowed a levelled playing field in the monitoring, assessment of BIP and allocation of quota.