Some 3.21million tonnes of raw sugar valued at N630.7billion ($883.1million) have been imported by sugar merchants to Nigeria within two years. The huge import, it was learnt, has blighted the government’s decision to provide 110,000 jobs under it Backward Integrated Programme (BIP).
According to Trade Data Monitor (TDM), Brazil’s cumulative raw sugar exports to Nigeria from April 2019 to March 2020 season was 1.59 million tonnes valued at N312.4billion ($637.6million), while in 2020/21 season imported raw sugar was 1.62million tonnes valued at N318.3billion ($649.6million). Also, Nigeria’s domestic cane sugar cane production has slumped from 75,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, down by about 6.7 per cent within one year as top sugar producers such as Dangote, BUA and Golden Sugar blamed the underperformance of the domestic sugar production on flooding, conflicts in land acquisition, insecurity, infrastructure deficit, environmental issues and skills deficit.
This is coming as two ships berthed at Apapa Bulk terminal Limited (ABTL) and Greenview Development Nigeria Limited (GDNL) of Lagos Port Complex with 96, 980 tonnes. According to Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s shipping position, Gelico has started offloading 44,180 tonnes at GDNL, while Desert Harrier, is currently discharging 52,800tonnes at ABTL of the port since last week. Under the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP), Dangote Group has invested $334.1 million; BUA Sugar Refinery, $107 million and Golden Sugar Refinery, $142.4 million for expansion. Also, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has supported the participating companies with long term funding through Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS) and Real Sector Aupport Finance but the country has failed to meet its projected target of 1.79 million tonnes between 2012 and 2020, leading to a deficit of 93.3 per cent or 1.09 million tonnes Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Mr. Zacch Adedeji, has said that the sugar industry could create 110,000 direct jobs when the nation attains the target of meeting 1.7million tonnes yearly. He noted in that the Backward Integration Programme (BIP) designed for the sugar industry could tackle unemployment and socioeconomic issues bedeviling the country, saying that BIP roadmap was a major component of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP). The executive secretary noted that the sugar sector could provide jobs for millions of skilled and unskilled workers.
Adedeji added that the sugar sector was a goldmine that holds numerous potential and opportunities for Nigeria and Nigerians. He assured investors in the sector of government’s support, in terms of policy and technical assistance. He called for concerted efforts toward full implementation of the Backward Integration Programme for the sugar industry which was crucial to Nigeria’s quest to attain self-sufficiency in sugar production.
It would be recalled that between 2016 and 2020, the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) through the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) introduced a 10 per cent duty and additional 80 per cent levy for raw sugar; 20per cent duty and 85 per cent levy for refine sugar imports. Also in 2019 and 2020, refined sugar attracted 10 per cent duty, 30 per cent levy raw sugar imports. In addition, part of the incentives to boost domestic production of sugar include:a five-year tax for investors in the value chain; 10 per cent import duty and 50 per cent levy on imported raw sugar; 20 per cent duty and 60 per cent levy for imported refined sugar.
The former Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Dr Latif Busari, had explained that the country was currently producing only five per cent of its total demand, while it depends on importing the rest. He said in Abuja at the signing of “Sugarcane Irrigation’’ agreement between BUA and Netafim that the country would be self-sufficient in refined sugar production by 2023. Busari noted that the agreement would boost sugarcane farming, thereby, providing raw materials for refined sugar production. He said: “We import raw sugar and our refineries which have a combined capacity of about three million metric tonnes refining capacity. Dangote, BUA and Golden Sugar import raw sugar add a bit of value and in the process create some few jobs.”