The executive secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Mr Zacch Adedeji, said basic infrastructure such as road, electricity and qualified indigenous manpower are essential requirements needed to fast-tract Nigeria’s desire to attain self-sufficiency in sugar and ethanol production.
Adedeji stressed that Nigeria, given its agricultural potential, has no business importing sugar for local consumption.
The executive secretary who said this yesterday while playing host to members of the House of Representatives Committee on Industry, during an oversight visit to the recently commissioned Nigeria sugar institute, Ilorin, Kwara State, said Nigeria has both the human and natural resources to become a net exporter of sugar and its numerous by-products.
While assuring members of the committee of the council’s readiness to ensure that all sugar sector policies as enshrined in the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) are strictly complied with and implemented to the letter by investors and other interested parties, Adedeji also listed insecurity, community hostilities, lack of access to land and natural disasters as some of the challenges confronting the sector.
“My dear honourable parliamentarians, the sugar sector occupies a significant place in the programme and economic diversification agenda of the current administration of president Muhammadu Buhari. It is a sector that holds numerous economic benefits for Nigeria and Nigerians. The sugar industry is a huge employer of labour; both skilled and unskilled. All hands must be on deck in our determination to grow the sector for the benefit of our teeming youth population who roam the streets in search of jobs,” he stated.
He maintained that regardless of the challenges presently facing the sector, the council, in partnership with key industry players have resolved to collaborate and share useful information on how best to grow the sector, adding that government is trying its best to address issues related to insecurity across the country as seen in various special operations launched by the military and other security agencies.
“The challenges confronting the sector are quite real and genuine. Lack of access to land, multiple demands for compensation by land owners, communal hostilities arising from unresolved internal disputes, flooding as well as scarcity of foreign exchange are some challenges we are battling with in the sector.
“Thankfully, we have mapped out a number of strategies to address these problems holistically. On the issue of land, we are in touch with state governors and they have shown their willingness to assist in that regard. So, the issues highlighted are receiving attention and will soon become history.”
On his part, the chairman, House of Representatives committee on industry, Dr. Enitan Badru, expressed the readiness of the national assembly through his committee to come up with laws that would speedily address the issues raised as well as give other necessary legislative support to the council to achieve its desired objectives.
While urging the leadership of the council to be transparent and patriotic in its operations, Badru said Nigeria deserves nothing but the best at this critical and challenging phase of her existence.