NIGERIA – Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, one of the largest foods and agro-allied groups has committed to help Nigeria achieve self-sufficiency in the production of sugar and its by-products.

The group revealed its plan in a statement made available to The PUNCH, in which it said it had been at the forefront of driving food sufficiency in Nigeria since its incorporation on September 29, 1960.

Flour Mills has participated in the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) and Backward Integration Plan (BIP) since its inception in 2012 through its subsidiary Golden Sugar Company situated on the Niger River in Niger state.

According to FMN, the factory has already invested more than N73bn (US$96M) to establish 3,500ha of irrigated sugar cane and a sugar factory with 3,000 tons per day milling capacity.

The factory is the only one constructed under the NSMP and producing sugar today. Once the development is complete 150,000 tons of sugar will be produced per year.

Commenting on the Group’s Sugar investment, Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Boye Olusanya, said

“FMN, through its subsidiary, Golden Sugar Company initiated progressive agricultural interventions towards driving sugar self-sufficiency in Nigeria”.

He added that the group also introduced the out-grower program; a transformative and innovative agricultural intervention designed for local capacity development.

In support of the National Sugar Master Plan Agenda, the group said it set up its Sugar Cane Out grower Scheme through which it builds capacity locally.

At Sunti in Niger State, the company has an area of 22,000ha on which a 15,000-hectare sugar estate is being developed.

The Golden Sugar Company Sugar Cane Outgrower Scheme is an integrated, direct, and productive response to the Federal Government’s quest to develop the sugar industry to ensure that Nigeria attains at least, 70% self-sufficiency in her sugar requirement within the shortest possible time.

According to USDA in a GAIN report, Nigeria’s sugar production in the Marketing Year 2022/23 is forecasted to be flat at 70,000 MT due to the country’s ineffective crushing capacity over the past 12 months.

USDA also notes that sugar companies are also challenged by their inability to access foreign exchange required for importing machinery and equipment.

To meet the high demand, the West African nation relies on imports where in 2021, the country was expected to import 1.8 million metric tons (MMT) of raw sugar to be refined locally.

As of 2021, Nigeria’s per capita sugar consumption was around eight kilograms, much lower than the global average of roughly 36 kilograms per person.