By Ali Bare
The Dangote Sugar plant in Tunga, Nasarawa State, will produce 450, 000 metric tons of sugar, as well as 90 megawatts of power when completed.
Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule disclosed this while delivering a speech at the Northern region sugar sensitization workshop organized by the National Sugar Development Council, in Lafia, on Wednesday.
Engineer Sule added the Tunga plant will not require more than 45 megawatts, with the excess 45 megawatts more than enough to power Lafia, Obi, Keana and Awe local government areas.
He explained that the concept was for Dangote to acquire 68, 000 hectares of land in Tunga for setting up two 12, 000tcd plants.
The Governor used the opportunity to dismissed insinuations that the Tunga sugar factory is taking a long time to complete, stressing that the sugar industry has its inherent challenges for which many people fail to understand.
Engineer Sule pointed out that the Tunga sugar plant is being stalled as a result of the numerous challenges confronting the sugar industry in Nigeria, adding that unless some of these challenges are addressed, the sugar industry will continue to suffer.
The Governor stated further that a fundamental value chain in the industry is lost due to the constraints on agricultural financing in the country.
“The masterplan for Tunga sugar plantation started 7 years ago, but we have not gone more than 7 percent. We are supposed to be at 70 percent by now. And the reason is simple. The challenges are enormous, we are used to refineries in Nigeria.
“But with the refineries, you lose all the opportunities of the value chain. You lose the opportunity of the greatest of all, employment opportunities,” he said.
The Governor equally spoke on the challenges posed by the land tenure system, which he said, is making it difficult for investors to acquire land.
“Sugar industry has an excellent formula of what we call out grower. They can take land from a farmer, and give it back to the farmer and also guarantee buying of this product so that at the end of the day, it’s the same sugar industry that is growing,” Engineer Sule said.
He commended the organizers of the workshop for choosing Nasarawa State as host as it will afford the people the opportunity to understand more about the sugar industry.
According to Engineer Sule, sugar has gone beyond politics and economics but that it’s actually about the society and global changes, which emphasizes on the control of pollution in terms of the use of ethanol derived from sugar rather than energy from oil.
“The economy of sugarcane today in the world has gone just beyond the sugar you consume, it’s also your source of energy because of the ethanol that you have.
“Today, in Brazil, you have sugar plantations that are built not to produce sugar but to produce only ethanol. You have sugar plantations that are there not to produce ethanol, not to produce sugar, but to produce power.
“Today, you produce over 4000 megawatts of power in Brazil only because of sugarcane. In Nigeria, we are battling with 3000 to 4000 megawatts of power,” he stated.
Earlier, in his welcome address, Dr. Latif Demola Busari, Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council, said with the completion of the Dangote Sugar project in Tunga, Nasarawa State will be one of the major contributors to the national sugar output.
“I’m more delighted that all these positive developments are happening during the administration of the current Executive Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, who was and is still very passionate about the fortune of the Nigeria sugar industry,” Dr. Busari said.
He added that this year, aside of creating awareness on the huge opportunities in the Nigeria sugar sub-sector, the sensitization workshop will also focus on the issue of sugar, nutrition and health, which has gained considerable public interest and is of great concern to producers and consumers of the commodity.