By Franklin Alli
The National Assembly Committee on Industry, Trade & Investment has commenced an impact assessment of the National Sugar policy on the sector.
The policy which took effect from 1st January, 2013, stipulated that “No refinery operating on imported raw sugar is allowed to expand its installed capacity without government approval, and if a refinery does not fulfil its local production target for any one year after utilising the import quota allocated, such refinery shall be benchmarked on the expected capacity utilisation for the following year, among other requirements.
The move was disclosed by the Chairman of the Committee, Honorable Abubakar Moriki, during the committee visits to Dangote Sugar Refinery in Lagos and Savannah Sugar Company, Numan, Adamawa State, respectively.
Moriki said: “We are here to see to what extent the policy of National Sugar Master Plan, NSMP, has impacted on you as a player in the industry and whether there are some amendments needed to make the implementation smoother and faster. We will look at this challenge and others that are affecting the industry.
“We are aware for a sugar business to succeed, there has to be substantial mass land acquisition for the sugar cane to be planted.”
According to him, the Committee has the responsibility to oversee the Federal Ministry of industry, Trade and Investment and alongside the agencies, which the National Sugar Development Council is one of them, being the regulatory agency solely with the responsibility to see to the implementation of national sugar policy globally and to come out with all implementation strategies to make us realize sugar self-sufficiency target in 2020.
Moriki expressed satisfaction at the level of the backward integration programme these companies have been able to achieve.
He lauded Dangote for the remarkable progress towards ensuring the success of the sugar backward integration project in the sugar sector of the economy
“We have visited the production site at the Savannah Sugar Company, Numan, Adamawa State, which is a typical backward integration starting point where we saw how the sugar cane was produced, the collaboration you have with the host community in terms of the Out Growers Scheme and job creation.”
Moriki pointed out, “We are happy at the development seen in Numan, which portrays a successful privatization. The company was sold to Dangote in 2003, it was sold as a moribund, but during our visit there the company is back on its feet with about 12,000 hectares of land put into cultivation of sugar cane.”
He tasked Dangote Sugar to ensure maximal capacity utilization as much as possible to be able to refine sugar here and to be able to have mechanism to produce sugar also in the factory.
Speaking, Group Managing Director of Dangote Sugar Refinery, Abdullahi Sule, noted that Dangote Sugar Master Plan was to ensure five large sugar factories, 150,000 hectares of land under cultivation, 1.5 to 2.0 million MT/PA of refined sugar from locally grown sugarcane per annual and to generate over 100,000 jobs, among others.