NIGERIA – The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has mobilised a N2 billion agricultural and infrastructure fund for investors in order to boost sugar production in the country.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, disclosed this during the quarterly meeting with the Directors-General and Chief Executive Officers of agencies and parastatals under the ministry in Abuja.
Aganga noted that the intervention fund, which will be disbursed at a single digit interest rate, would serve as cheap and affordable capital for investors who are investing in the backward integration programme of the federal government in the sugar industry.
In his words, “The National Sugar Development Council, a parastatal under my ministry, is providing N1billion from the Sugar Levy, while the Bank of Agriculture will provide a matching fund of additional N1 billion as intervention fund to assist investors and farmers who are investing in sugarcane to sugar programme, which is an integral part of the backward integration programme in the sugar sector.”
He added: “The fund which will be disbursed at a single digit interest rate, is part of our on-going efforts towards providing an enabling environment for Nigerians to take advantage of the federal government’s sector specific policies that are aimed at industrialising our country and create jobs for our people.”
The minister pointed out that the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan, which provides the roadmap for 100 per cent local production of sugar, has within one year of its implementation, raised the country’s profile by attracting about $3 billion pipeline investments into the sector .
“We have done the due diligence for three new sites for sugar plantations and within the next three months, we shall be commissioning a bio-factory in Zaria and another one in University of Illorin. The idea is that about one million good quality seedlings will come out from these factories,” Aganga noted.
Giving an overview of the activities and performance of the ministry, Aganga said that it had exceeded its expectations in terms of formulation and implementation of policies that have impacted positively on the country’s economy.
“We have developed and begun the implementation of the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) which was launched by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
The president has also inaugurated the Presidential Advisory Council on NIRP and they have been meeting to address all the bottlenecks that limit the productivity and competitiveness of our industrial sector. Their recommendations will soon be submitted to the president for necessary action,”he said.
“We are also delighted that United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) has chosen Nigeria as one of the pilot countries that it will support and work with due to our Industrial Revolution Plan which we have put in place. In the automotive sector, we have made significant progress as the new auto policy has helped in revitalizing some hitherto moribund auto assembly plants.
Speaking during the meeting, the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer, National Sugar Development Council, Dr. Lateef Busari, said the N2 billion fund would enable farmers and investors in the sugarcane to sugar programme access cheap funds to expand their operations.