by Eyagbe Richard
Speaking at the event held on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa, the Minister of Industry, trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, said: “This morning I represented the President at the formal commissioning of the Presidential project on irrigation infrastructure.
“The intervention is the setting up of a $73 million dollars intervention fund for irrigation, for operators of the Sugar backward Intervention Programme.
“The goal is to support the development of irrigation infrastructure on 10,000 hectares of sugar plantations located in six sites in Numan (Adamawa State), Sumti (Niger State), Lafiagi (Kwara), Bacita (Kwara) as well as Toto and Tunga, both in Nasarawa state.”
“The Central Bank of Nigeria is also involved in the provision of required funding for the project as well.”
According to Adebayo, the aim of the programme was to increase Nigeria’s sugar yield, in line with its quest of becoming self-sufficient in Sugar production.
“The aim is to increase significantly the sugar yield so that we can work within the National Sugar Development master plan, with a view to Nigeria becoming self-sufficient in sugar production and possibly becoming a net exporter of sugar.
This would save the country the large bill that it presently incurs in foreign exchange for the importation of sugar,” he said.
Also speaking, Gov. Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa state expressed delight that the country was now moving in the right direction towards actualising her dream of becoming self-sufficient in sugar production.
Sugar had a value chain that can yield more for the country, thus boosting the Nigerian economy, he noted.
“Out of the 21 institutions or organizations that were licensed to produce ethanol, only one is actually producing ethanol and one of the easiest ways to produce ethanol is through sugarcane so you can now understand the importance of this,” he said.
The governor, who is also the Chairman, Forum of Sugar Producing States, said Nigeria had both the human and natural resources to be among leading sugar producing countries in the world.
He, therefore, urged all critical players in the sector to wake up and redouble their efforts in the realization of the nation’s goals in the sugar sector.
“We all have to roll up our sleeves and match our words with concrete actions, to enable us achieve our desired objectives in the sector,” he added.
Also speaking at the event, the Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Mr. Zacch Adedeji said the intervention was part of government’s determination to provide an enabling environment for private investments to thrive and flourish in the country.
He said: “Preliminary activities, including identification of the specific project sites for each operator, which include framework for design and engineering services for the in-field and bulk water supply systems, project management and maintenance specifications.
“In addition to the adoption of a business model and costing, among others, have been concluded long before the formal commissioning of this laudable initiative.’’