NIGERIA – Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, Nigeria’s market leader in food and agro-allied products,  has commissioned the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate valued at US$139.5million(N50 billion), located in Niger state of the country.

Consisting of a sugar estate and a mill, the new new sugar plantation has capacity to produce 1 million tons of sugarcane per annum, which roughly translates into 100,000 metric tons of sugar yearly at full capacity.

The new plant will more than double Nigeria’s sugar production capacity, which the USDA in an April 2017 report said was set to produce 80,000 tonnes of sugar in the 2017/18 season.

Sugar imports from Brazil make up more than 80% of Nigeria’s sugar imports, with the country projected by the USDA to consume 1.65 million tonnes this year.

According to the company, the sugar estate features 17, 000 hectares of irrigable farmland and a sugar mill that processes 4,500 metric tons of sugarcane per day.

Located on the banks of River Niger, in Mokwa, Niger state, the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate is owned by Sunti Golden Sugar Estates (SGSE) Ltd., a subsidiary of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc. (FMN)

Enclosed within a 35-kilometer dyke, the production facility area is 15,100 hectares, with a cane area that features a maximum output of 10, 000 hectares.

Over US$2.79million(N1 billion) was invested in the state-of-the-art irrigation system that will ensure the efficient cultivation of sugar cane, with infrastructure that includes drain pumps, pump stations, and a power grid.

According to the company, the estate is the purest representation of the Federal Government’s Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) with an ambitious Backward integration program that intends to set Nigeria on the path to self-sufficiency in sugar production.

According to FMN, the farm at peak production will provide direct employment for about 10,000 people yearly, and impact up to 50,000 people indirectly, including 3,000 small-scale out growers who will be cultivating sugarcane to feed the mill.

The project illustrates the desire to reduce sugar importation and will save the country significant foreign exchange.

According to the Director Policy, Planning, Research and Statistics at the country’s National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Hezekiah Kolawole, Nigeria losses US$600million foreign exchange annually to the importation of sugar for domestic consumption.

Sugar demand for both industrial and household use in Nigeria is set to rise this year after last year’s downturn, according to Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc acting Managing Director Abdullahi Sule, in an earlier interview in January this year.