Kwara State Governor, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed has advocated for self sufficiency in sugarcane production through increased plantation to reduce Nigeria’s raw sugar import which stood at about 1.045 million tons last year.
According to the governor, “it is worrisome that despite that the country is endowed with the required manpower , raw materials, cultivable land and excellent climatic conditions to produce enough sugar for local consumption and export, the country’s dependence on raw sugar import could rise to1.7million tons.
The governor made this remarks at the flag off of 2016 Sugar cane Planting season of Lafigi Sugar company (LASUCO) in Lafiagi, headquarters of Edu Local Government Area of the State.
Dr Ahmed, who noted that the sugar sub-sector has huge contributions to employment , development of subsidiary industries and development of rural economy , said the country must become self sufficient in sugar production in order to save scarce foreign exchange and enhance economic growth.
The Governor said it was in that regard that the state government identified agriculture as a major strategy for job and wealth creation for the people of the State. “We are encouraging farmers through the Off Taker Demand -Driven Scheme and expanding access to finance and other crucial inputs such as the Kwara Agro Mall, a one stop shop for farmers”, the governor said.
He noted that the strategic location of Kwara State as gateway to the north and south, the vast arable land and closeness to River Niger serve as a comparative advantage to the State. He advised investors to take advantage of the strategic policies of the State government by setting up more sugar production businesses in the state.
The Group Executive Director , Lafigi Sugar Company, Alhaji Kabiru Rabiu ,in his address described Kwara State as the birthplace of sugar industry in Nigeria as it ” is the home to Nigeria’s Pioneer sugar company “, adding that LASUCO has over 10,000 hectares suitable for sugarcane production.
Alhaji Rabiu said when fully integrated, the Sugar Mill with refinery will have capacity to crush about 7,000 tons of cane per day and produce over 140 ,000 tons of pure refined white sugar , about 25 million liters of ethanol and generate 35 mega watts of electricity.