In spite of its large areas of cultivatable land suitable for the growing of sugar cane and some recent investments in the sub-sector, Nigeria still imports 90% of its sugar.
Speaking in Lagos at the first Stakeholders Forum on Flexible Sugar Industry (FSI) 2008, Alhaji Usman Bello, Executive Secretary of the National Sugar Development Council said Nigeria imports 1.2 million tonnes of sugar annually from a total consumption of 1.3 million.
Four sugar companies – Nigerian Sugar Company Bacita, Savana Sugar Company Numan, Lafiagi Sugar Company Kwara and the Sunti Sugar Company in Niger – produce about 100 000 tonnes of sugar annually. There are a further 25 smaller companies also operating in Nigeria.
Bello is enthusiastic about the possibility of producing sugar, ethanol and electricity from one plant. He urged investors to take notice of the many opportunities in sugar cane.
He said the middle belt region of the country, which includes states such as Taraba, Niger, Kogi and Kwara are especially good areas for the production of sugar cane. According, to the executive secretary the far north is also a good area but more suited for ethanol production and electricity generation.
He said the government will assist investors in the processing of sugar cane by creating an enabling environment for business.