Federal Government, Monday, inaugurated the first Sugarcane Bio-factory in Nigeria, located at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in Kaduna State.
The one-million seedlings per annum capacity factor, according to government, is part of effort to achieve self-sufficiency in the nation’s sugar requirements and the accruing benefits.
While declaring the Sugarcane Bio-factory open for operations, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Olusegun Aganga said: “The provision of high grade and quality seedlings of sugarcane is essential for the attainment of the set goals of the National Sugar Master Plan.”
He further said that the bio-factory is the first in the series of bio-factories that will be established in the next five years, with combined capacities estimated at 12.5million cane seedlings per annum.
The minister said, “This facility is designed to address a critical constraint facing Nigeria’s sugar industry – timely provision of high quality and clean seeds to sugar estates and farmers across Nigeria. We expect that in four years, five of this kind of facility would have been established across Nigeria with capacities of between 2million and 2.5million seedlings per annum each.
“The event today marks another milestone in the implementation of the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan which was approved by the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan in September 2012.”
The minister also explained that a bio-factory is a facility where disease-free crop seedlings are rapidly micro-propagated under controlled laboratory environment for planting in the fields adding that the projection in the NSMP was that at least 250,000 hectares of sugarcane fields would be required for processing in about 28 mills of varying capacities to produce 1.79 metric tonnes of sugar in the first phase of the master plan.
“The NSMP is one of the major sectorial policies under the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan, enunciated by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and launched by the president in February 2014.
“The ultimate goal is to make Nigeria’s manufacturing sector highly competitive and dynamic,” he stated.
According to Aganga, the production of sugar is an integrated process with field and factory processes that are inter-dependent and mutually inclusive.
He added that the efficiency in the cultivation and supply of sugarcane will enhance the efficient milling and production of sugar and associated by-products like ethanol and electricity.
He cited Brazil’s Cane Technology Centre (CTC) as model, haven expanded the investment and innovation horizon of Brazil’s economy.
He said, “This is what the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) seeks to replicate for the Nigerian sugar industry through the establishment of this bio-factory.”