*Flour Mills Nigeria not involved in any sugar war says management
Executive Secretary/ CEO, National Sugar Development Council, Zacch Adedeji, has assured stakeholders in the sugar industry of the Federal Government commitment to the full implementation of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan.
He made the comment recently when he and his team visited the Flour Mills of Nigeria and the Golden Sugar refinery on a working visit.
Speaking on how far the body has gone in implementing the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan, he said; “we have come a long way in defining what we need to do, which the master plan did seven years ago. We identified as a nation that we need to move to self-sufficiency in local sugar production and that was what gave birth to the Nigeria master plan. Before the master plan, we import sugar into the country but from inception till now, we only import raw materials and we refine 100 per cent today in Nigeria.
On backward integration, he said, “on the backward integration which is the main focus of the master plan, though, slow but we are moving in the right direction.
“The consumption rate in Nigeria as of today is around 1.5 million metric tons and we have a target of producing 1.7 million metric tons.
“We have three major operators in the industry and they are committed to making sure that we achieve the mandate of the sugar master plan. I’ve gone round the three refineries and I am impressed and I am sure that we will transfer the same commitment that we put in setting up these refineries to the backward integration which requires a lot of capital, lands and commitment. We will move also from the importation of raw materials to growing canes, which is the only way we can meet the desired projection and also create more employment.”
“We can have direct labour of 110,000 when we are in full gear of meeting 1.7 million metric tons local demand per year. We have come to the end of our first trip many of which we will still have. The Federal Government is fully committed to implementing the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan: Today, the unemployment figure is on the increase and the only way to solve it is to grow the industry and by God grace, we will implement the master plan to the fullest and we will support the players in the industry”, he said.
On his part, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Agro-Allied, Flour Mill, Nigeria, Sadiq Usman, said; “We signed up to the Backward Integration Programme (BIP) through our subsidiary (Golden Sugar) in 2013 and I am pleased to say that we have developed identified a piece of land, we announced the addition of another piece in Niger State on February 20, 2021, and we have developed a total of 3,000 hectares, built a sugar mill, sugar estate and we have invested over N65 billion in that and another $200 billion in the Apapa refinery.”
Speaking on the challenges, he said; “The major challenge is foreign exchange, but the biggest challenge is making sure that we have the support of the government and other players in the industry to ensure that the commitment of the new executive secretary of the NSDC gave today comes to reality and to ensure that it’s backed up by both the carrot and the stick approach because that’s what keeps us awake at night, to be sure that the government stand by what it says and the players stick by what we say we are going to do and get the necessary support.”
On the deficit of raw material, he said; “in term of local production of sugar, we are only at five per cent.
“On the rivalry between the three sugar producers in Nigeria, he said; “we put out a statement to the public and to the stock exchange. Flour Mills Nigeria is not engaged in any bitter war with anyone, the only war we are engaged in is with ourselves, to achieve what we are committed to. We are 60 years old, much older than the other companies in this sector, we are not in the business of collusion, we have no involvement in any sugar war or price war and we are committed to providing our customers with quality products.