Nigeria’s sugar investors are aggressively expanding operations with a view to ending product import from Brazil by 2018.
Already, investors have injected over $2.6 billion in the sugarcane to sugar value chain as well as in refining.
“With what is on ground and the capacity envisioned, this sub-sector can create 37,378 permanent jobs as well as 79,803 seasonal jobs,” said Dr Latif Busari, Secretary, the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), at the Northern Region Sugar Sensitization Forum.
“This can record 1,797,000 tonnes of sugar annually, 161.2 million litres of ethanol annually, 411.7 mega watts (MW) of electricity annually and 1.6 million tonnes of animal feeds,” Busari added.
Leading the investors is Dangote Sugar Refinery, which has pumped $2 billion investments in six states in the country, through its recently acquired Savannah Sugar in Numan, Adamawa State, North-East Nigeria. Dangote is targeting to produce is 1.5 million metric tonnes (MT) of sugar between five and ten years.
According to the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Dangote Sugar has been expanding the outgrower scheme and the number of farmers in the scheme is nearly 500.
It has also acquired $35 million new farm machinery for land development; 50,000 ha in Bali, Taraba State; 50,000 ha in Kebbi State; 38,000 ha in Numa/Guyuk in Adamawa, as well as 50,000 ha in Kpata, Kwara State.
Aliko Dangote, President, Dangote Group, said during the launching of the National Industrial Revolution Programme in Nigeria’s capital Abuja in 2014 that with the Backward Integration Programme (BIP) in the sector, the country would cease being a net sugar importer by 2018.
Flour Mills, through its Golden Sugar Company, has pumped $300 million in sugar plantations in Niger State. Apart from the 12,500 ha Sunti BIP project, which is rated the fastest growing among ongoing projects, Golden Sugar Company is also exploring new sites in Kogi and Niger for bigger sugar projects.
Also, Confluence Sugar, Kogi; Crystal Sugar Mills, Jigawa; and Unicane Industries are investing in Greenfield projects. Crystal Sugar has almost completed factory refurbishing and plans test-running it soon. Findings also show that both Crystal and Confluence Sugar have already established 50ha and 100ha cane nursery respectively.
HoneyGold Group is also investing $300 million on two sites in Adamawa state, targeting 200,000 MT of sugar annually.
McNichols, Consolidated Plc, Lucke Sugar and Dogan Sugar are expanding in new cubing, Vitamin A fortification and packaging lines.
The sugar demand in Nigeria is driven by growing population and middle-class, as well as demand by food, beverage and tobacco sub-sector.
“Nigeria has a large population and a growing food and beverage sector. I believe that with the young population in the country estimated at over 50 percent, the industry will keep rising,” said Oti Igbadi, an economist in Lagos.