NSMP Implementation: We Are on Track– Dr. Busari

The Executive Secretary of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Dr. Latif D. Busari has said that the implementation of the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) has reached 40.3percent between 2013 and 2016 and expressed hope that the master plan would record meaningful success in the years ahead.

Dr. Busari who disclosed this in Abuja while speaking at the mid-term review meeting on the implementation of NSMP, said Government is leaving no stone unturned in its drive to achieve all the laudable goals and objectives for the sugar sector as contained in the NSMP roadmap.

According to the NSDC mid-term review, BUA scored 17 per cent, Dangote scored 45.8 per cent while Golden Sugar scored 58 per cent in the targets set in the backward integration plan, including number of projects, new sugar factories, land developed, land under cane, out-grower farms, sugar produced and job creation.

Dr. Busari revealed that BUA produced zero tonnes of sugar out of the 15, 600 metric tonnes of sugar the company promised to produce during the period under review, Dangote produced 20, 200 metric tonnes, being 28 per cent of the 72, 000 metric tonnes it promised to produce, while Golden Sugar produced 800 metric tonnes, being one per cent of the 57, 750 metric tonnes the company ought to have produced during the period.

According to him, these sugar producers have lost billions of naira as result of “community hostility over land, incessant flooding of sugar estates and smuggling of St Louis Cube Sugar.” He added that “many projects that would have raised the implementation profile of the NSMP were stalled by Government/host community unwillingness to give out land. “DSR’s proposal to establish a sugar estate in Zaria Kalakala, Kebbi State was stalled by political elite interference and demands after company had undertaken preliminary perimeter surveys and initiated action for topographical and soil surveys.

“Golden Sugar Estate, Sunti has witnessed so many disruptions during its development and even as recent as March 22, 2017 requiring the intervention of the Police and local Chiefs. “BUA Group has also reported community hostilities against its operations at its BIP project site in Lafiagi Sugar Estate. Four such incidents of physical attacks against contractors working on estate roads and irrigation canals were recorded within the period. “Flood protection dykes constructed at very huge costs were breached and cane fields washed away. Farm infrastructures – irrigation systems were damaged. The sudden discharge of water from Jebba and Kainji dams by the concessionaire companies was responsible for the 2016 incident.”

According to the report’s verdict “the new estate and factory established FMNL, Sunti, appears to be the key significant achievement under Phase 1 of BIP implementation. Other expected developments particularly the expansion of factory operations at DSR’s Savannah Sugar Company, Numan, developments at Lau/Tau and installation of factory at BUA’s Lafiagi Sugar Company, all of which would have impacted positively on the local sugar production, dimmed the performance of the sector.” Busari stressed that “having identified the constraints and designing measures to contain them, the prospects for the effective implementation of the NSMP over the next five years is bright. “The combination of the new guidelines with the actions that Government and relevant agencies will be taking will result in a greater commitment by operators and ultimately, more sugar projects and substantial increases in local sugar production levels,” he concluded.

Earlier, the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, challenged NSDC and stakeholders in the nation’s sugar industry to look beyond the mid-term performance and consider finishing-well. Dr. Enelamah reassured the stakeholders of the government’s commitment at creating business enabling environment, noting that while cement industry is doing well in the backward integration, sugar industry, considering its importance to the people, and should do better.