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Smugglers Threaten Nigeria’s Sugar Sufficiency Plan – FMN

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The management of Flour Mills Nigeria (FMN) Plc has raised alarm over what it called the incessant smuggling of refined sugar across the country’s land borders. It noted that if not curbed, smuggling activities will continue to pose a threat to Nigeria’s quest for achieving self-sufficiency in the sector.

Speaking with news men in Lagos, the general manager, Golden Sugar Company, a subsidiary of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, Maniatis Loannis John, said the incessant smuggling of the product had also affected key sugar companies, saying that “Smuggling has really affected sugar business in Nigeria. First of all, we need to understand why smuggling is on the prowl in the country.”

According to him, the activities of smugglers in the country is fueled by arbitrary opportunities imbedded in its system.

“Smuggling happens because in economics there is what is called ‘arbitrary opportunity.’ Nigerian government wants the country to be self-sufficiency in sugar production and for that to happen, several large amount of monies are needed,” he said.

Speaking of the implications on the sector, he said, the activities of smugglers have affected the federal government’s quest to achieve Backward Integration Programme (BIP) in the sugar industry in line with its diversification agenda of Nigeria’s economy.

He stated that after investing N50 billion, the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate built by Flour Mills in Mokwa, Niger State is facing challenges from smugglers. Even as the floods of last year destroyed a lot of sugar farm.

According to him, the farm estate is expected to produce one million tons of refined sugar per year at full capacity.

But expressed fears that the activities of smugglers may affect the annual projection if urgent action is not taken by the federal government to forestall the act.

He further explained that the sugar estate had about 17,000 hectares of arable farmland and a mill capacity to processing 4,500 metric tons of sugarcane daily.

At full capacity, he stressed that the estate could produce one million tons of sugarcane.

According to him, Flour Mill Nigeria was expecting to realise between 6,000 tons and 7,000 tons of sugar this year at the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate, saying that smuggling was the company’s only blockage in harvesting the sugar.

Also, the general manager explained flood had affected the farm estate, saying that this would affect the projected 7,000 tons of sugar.

He also noted that the farm estate was built to bring infrastructure benefits to its 28 surrounding communities.

John said that about new 30-kilometres road networks were to provide a variety of access routes to the villages, with drainage system, culverts and flood-protection walls constructed in the areas to avoid flood, saying that the company has started planting sugarcane in full in line with the requirements of the national sugar plan as part of the government’s backward integration plan (BIP) in the sugar industry.

“By next harvesting year, we will be talking of 12,000 tons. So, from that point, we will continue to grow our sugar estate to take care of the Nigerian sugar market. We look forward to produce 20 per cent of the country national needs within the next five to six years,” John said.

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