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Agro raw material resources of nigeria

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Sugar cane (Saccharum ofJicinarumL.) is a specie of a tall tropical grass belonging to family
Poaceae. It is a native of New Guinea where it was reported domesticated as early as
8000BC. Sugar cane has a stout fibrous stalk, whose sap at one time was the primary source
of sugar in the world. History recorded its gradual spread throughout Asia, Australia, Europe
and eventually North Africa, through the slave trade route. Globally, the crop is cultivated
across a large area lying between latitude 48°N and 30°S, covering some 74 countries ..Itwas
first introduced to the Nigerian coastal areas in the 15th century, but its cultivation has spread
inwards and it is presently grown in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as well as 32 out of
the 36 states of the Federation.
Sugar cane is a highly versatile crop whose every component is used for the production of a
variety of commodities. Although the major industrial product from sugar cane processing is
sugar, a lot of other products like potable and industrial alcohol, particle and fibre boards,
industrial and laboratory chemical derivatives, food additives and soil conditioners etc., can
also be produced in substantial quantities from it.
In Nigeria two major types are grown - the industrial cane from which sugar and other
industrial products are obtained and the chewing cane which is chewed raw for its sweet
juice. Sugar cane production in Nigeria increased from about 675,000 tonnes per annum in
1997 to 776,000 tonnes in 2004 (FAO, 2004). Compared to the rest of Africa, Nigeria falls in
the group oflow producers and the bulk of its sugarcane (55% to 65%) is ofthe chewing cane
type. This is partly responsible for the low level of sugar production in the country. Also,
apart from the ten mini sugar plants which can only process between 1500 and 2500 tonnes of
cane per annum, there were very few industrial cane processing facilities at Bacita, Numan,
and Lafiagi.
Domestic sugar production had varied between 5 and 20% over the years between 1970 and
2004. The country had always relied on imports to supply the shortfall, at a huge foreign
exchange cost to the national economy, since Nigeria consumes between 700,000- 1.3
million tonnes of the commodity annually. To reverse this unwholesome trend, government
has designed a number of initiatives such as
• the formulation of a National Sugar Policy: the policy contains several juicy
incentives to attract investors;

the establishment of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC): to
coordinate and implement the sugar policy;
• the privatization of the sugar sector: to remove government bureaucratic bottle-necks
that often impedes industrial progress etc.
Government's current thinking is to make the private sector the major participants in the
nation's sugar sub-sector. It is in support of this effort that the Raw Materials Research and
Development Council (RMRDC), initiated a nation-wide commodity survey which was
carried out between 7th August and io" September 2005. The main aim of the survey was to
ascertain the extent of sugar cane production as an industrial raw material, the current
production practices and factors militating against enhanced productivity, marketing and
processing as well as the effect of government policies on the sugar sub-sector in general.
The survey confirmed the wide-spread cultivation of sugar cane by local farmers across the
country. According to the survey,the proportion of chewing cane in the overall production is
now 93%. It also confirms the virtual collapse of the existing sugar industries, arising from
the divestment of the Federal Government from the companies. All arenowbeing privatized
and indeed, Savannah Sugar Company inNuman has already being acquired by the Dangote
Group and it is set to commence production in December 2005 while the Sunti Sugar
Company has been acquired by Dewo Industries. The privatization of both Nigerian Sugar
Company, Bacita and Lafiagi Sugar Company have also reached an advanced stage. A
private sector sugar refinery has also been established, but it currently relies on imported raw
sugar asraw material.
It is therefore clear from the survey that there is a vast scope for investment in the sugar subsector.
The country certainly has the capacity to produce all the sugarcane needed for the
production of all its sugar requirements. This will in tum lead to the production of large
quantities ofby-products that canbe utilized by other industries thus helping to provide more
employment opportunities for Nigerians. A new avenue for the utilization of the nation's
sugarcane isthe government's initiative on large-scale ethanol production to be blended with
petrol (PMS)for automobiles.
In conclusion, the survey identified and highlighted the significant investment opportunities
available in the Nigerian sugar sub-sector and drew the attention of all stake-holders to the
current constraints bedeviling the sector. It also suggested measures that can be adopted to
mitigate these constraints to enable the country derive the full benefits of a vibrant
cane/sugar sector.

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