The Executive Secretary of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Mr. Kamar Bakrin, has said the Council seeks to eliminate sugar importation and save the country about $1 billion.
Mr Bakrin said this is achievable through the faithful implementation of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan plan (NSMP) Phase II.
He said the measure will help reduce current pressure on the country’s foreign reserves as well as strengthen the Naira.
Speaking at an interactive session with leaders of the Commerce and Industry Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CICAN) in Abuja, Bakrin who assumed office in October last year, said the Council under his watch has been able to onboard two new sugar investors who control about 20,000 hectares of land.
He also said the Council had redesigned the Backward Integration Performance Incentive Framework to ensure proper alignment between the objectives of the NSMP II and the activities of the operators.
He said’ “So, if you are doing well, you get rewarded, and if you don’t do well, it would show in the kinds of incentives you get.
“You know that is one of the major problems in Nigeria. If you don’t have proper incentive alignment, people will do whatever they want.”
He also disclosed that the Council has commenced the full revitalisation of the Nigeria Sugar Institute (NSI) in Ilorin, Kwara State, to achieve the production of two million seedlings which will be supplied to the operators to help them fast-track the development of Sugar Estates.
He added that the Council has also mapped out plans to train about 1,500 sugar operators over time.
Among other things, the NSDC boss said it is ramping up NSMP II implementation strategy, adding that it would be unveiled next month by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to give proper backing to its activities.
According to him, the revamped framework will help to deal with the current complexities and realities of the industry.
He said the Council remained committed under his watch to uphold the four pillars of the NSMP II especially to promote backward integration to ensure the development of sugar production in the country; provide fiscal incentives including zero tariffs on equipment and spares as well as assistance to investors in the provision of feasibility studies.
He said on assumption of office in October, “I built on the work and achievements of my predecessor who has already worked extremely hard to get things to where they are today.
“So, working with the leadership team, we sort of articulated what needs to happen going forward to deliver on the mandate of this organisation and contribute our quota to national development.
“The critical thing for us is to accelerate the attainment of the goals of the NSMP II through strategic interventions. And we recognise three objectives: One is to increase the output of sugar locally to match domestic demand; to become a globally competitive player. We also want to become a globally competitive producer of sugar as a country and make imports a lot less attractive.
“And the third is to maximise the output of sugar because this sector also produces ethanol and power and animal feeds. We are seeking to maximise the industry’s output, and increase the amount of land available for the programme.”
He said the council was also looking at how to drive higher yields and attract investors to the sector