$3bn investment needed for sugar production – Bua

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The Group Executive Director, Bua Group, Alhaji Kabiru Rabiu, has said that about $3bn investment is needed to address Nigeria’s high sugar imports.

Decrying the country’s high sugar imports, he stressed the need for collaborative efforts of all stakeholders to increase the country’s sugar production capacity so as to conserve foreign exchange, stimulate industrialisation and job creation; while boosting the economy.

He spoke on Friday on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the sugar nursery plantation at Bua’s subsidiary, Lafiagi Sugar Company,  in Lafiagi, Edu Local Government Area of Kwara State by the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed.

Rabiu said Bua would be investing over $300m in its subsidiary, Lafiagi Sugar Company, as another measure to address the high sugar imports bill of Nigeria and boost local production.

He stated that the investment would cover LASUCO’s sugar mill, refinery, ethanol and power plant as well as complete the agricultural aspects of the project.

According to him, LASUCO has a historic land bank of about 16,000 hectares, out of which just over 10,000 hectares of the land is best suited for sugarcane production.

While clearing and developing the land, he stated that the company would provide the entire agricultural infrastructure such as the primary and secondary irrigation canals, pump stations, centre pivots and drip irrigation systems to ensure efficient sugarcane production that is of world standard.

He said the development of the land would include the construction of about 35-kilometre dike on the river bank, 40-kilometre irrigation canals as well as about 80 kilometres of feeder roads.  He added that there would also be about 100 units of houses.

Rabiu said the company had so far cleared close to 2,000 hectares of land, out of which over 500 hectares was ploughed and ready to receive cane.

“Between our nucleus estate and through the out-growers, it is envisaged that LASUCO will have a combined sugarcane production of over 1.2 million tonnes per annum when fully developed.

“One critical aspect of this venture is its ability to create jobs on a massive scale. We estimate that, at peak operation, the plantation and the factory will engage over 3,000 workers directly, while indirect employment is certain to reach up to 10,000 people,” Rabiu said.

He stated that the company would establish a fully integrated sugar mill with accompanying refinery that would have a capacity to crush about 7,000 tons of cane per day.

He said it was also expected that the community would utilise their 5,000 hectares to grow sugarcane under its growers scheme, adding that Bua Group was ready to support the growers with improved seed cane and farm inputs and would also purchase all sugarcane they produce.

Ahmed advocated self sufficiency in sugarcane production through increased plantation to reduce Nigeria’s raw sugar imports, which he said, stood at about 1.045 million tonnes in 2015.

He noted that the sugar sub-sector had huge contributions to employment, development of subsidiary industries and development of rural economy.

Culled from: http://www.punchng.com/3bn-investment-needed-sugar-production-bua/

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