The Federal Government has inaugurated Nigeria’s first Sugarcane Bio-factory in Zaria as part of efforts to achieve national self-sufficiency in the nation’s sugar requirements.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, said the inauguration of the one-million seedling per annum capacity bio-factory was the first in the series of bio-factories to be established in the next five years, with combined capacity estimated at 12.5million cane seedlings per annum.
Aganga spoke while declaring the Sugarcane Bio-factory open for operations at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State.
He said, “The provision of high grade and quality seedlings of sugarcane is essential for the attainment of the set goals of the National Sugar Master Plan. A bio-factory is a facility where disease-free crop seedlings are rapidly micro-propagated under controlled laboratory environment for planting in the fields.
“This facility is designed to address a critical constraint facing Nigeria’s sugar industry – timely provision of high quality and clean seeds to sugar estates and farmers across Nigeria. We expect that, in four years, five of this kind of facility would have been established across Nigeria with capacities of between 2million and 2.5million seedlings per annum each.”
The minister explained that the projection in the NSMP was that at least 250,000 hectares of sugarcane fields would be required for processing in about 28 mills of varying capacities to produce 1.79 metric tons of sugar in the first phase of the Master Plan.
He said, “The event today marks another milestone in the implementation of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan, which was approved by the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan in September 2012. The NSMP is one of the major sectoral policies under the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan, enunciated by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and launched by the President in February 2014. The ultimate goal is to make Nigeria’s manufacturing sector highly competitive and dynamic.
“The production of sugar is an integrated process with field and factory processes that are inter-dependent and mutually inclusive. Thus, efficiency in the cultivation and supply of sugarcane is essential for efficient milling and production of sugar and associated by-products such as ethanol and electricity.”
The minister noted that the vibrancy and efficiency of the Brazilian Sugar industry had been attributed to the investment and innovation services, which institutions like Brazil’s Cane Technology Centre(CTC) were providing to the sugar industry in Brazil.
He said, “This is what the National Sugar Development Council seeks to replicate for the Nigerian sugar industry through the establishment of this bio-factory. Today, I feel fulfilled by the achievements that we have recorded under the programmes and policies that were executed under my charge as the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment.
“One of the major aims of the NIRP is the deliberate linkage of research, technology and innovation to industry. Bio-technology in particular has opened to mankind a vast array of opportunities to significantly improve both the quality and quantity of biological deliverables.”
Speaking during the event, the Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council, Dr. Latif Basari, said the new bio-sugarcane factory would fast-track the development of the nation’s sugar industry, boost industrialisation and generate employment.
Busari said, “For us, the establishment of this ultra-modern facility that would support cutting edge technologies to rapidly multiply sugarcane seeds for our sugar estates and farmers is a clear demonstration of the determination of this administration to link our nation’s industrial development to advances in science, technology and innovation.
“It will enable the Sugar Council to achieve the NSMP goal of ensuring sustainable sugarcane production and enhanced productivity of sugar mills, all resulting in meeting our sugar sufficiency target.”
According to the executive secretary, this will also ensure the long-term viability of the Nigerian sugar industry and guarantee that Nigeria continues, not only to be food-secure in sugar but also derive all the notable benefits such as contribution to clean renewable fuel and power generation; huge employment opportunities; poverty alleviation and rapid rural industrial development.