NIGERIA – Sona Group of Industries said it is seeking the Federal Government’s intervention to ban the importation of sorghum, barley and biscuits into the country as Nigeria produces enough to meet local needs.

The call was made by the company’s Group Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Ashok Manghnani, in Ota, Ogun State, at the unveiling of the firm’s new production line by the Minister of State for Commerce, Industry and Trade, Aisha Abubakar.

Manghnani noted that the group has invested over $650 million in over eight of its subsidiaries and employs over 8,000 personnel, adding that the group has not only the capacity to meet local demand but also has started exporting to Senegal, Ghana and Abidjan, with sights set on other African countries.

He cautioned that allowing imports of goods that the country has a competitive advantage ultimately harms manufacturing and the economy.

“We produce a vast range of quality products including malted sorghum, malt extract, maltose syrup, glucose syrup (a substitute for imported sugar).

The products are key inputs in breweries, biscuits manufacturing, confectionery and pharmaceutical companies as well as other food and beverage industries.

“Our fully automated plant can produce 25,000 tonnes of malt extract, high maltose syrup and raw sorghum.

There is therefore the need to increase the import tariff for sorghum upwards from five per cent to discourage importation as we are comfortably self-sufficient in these raw materials.”

Also speaking at the event, the Group Managing Director, Sona Group, Mr. Ajai Musaddi, sought the reversal of the 20% customs duty on ethanol.

“The miserly 5% duty on imported plastics and pallets including sorghum should be discouraged. Unless government takes this bold step, local industries will be endangered due to unhealthy competition,” he said.

Mr. Musaddi also sought the minister’s help for preferential lending rates for the manufacturing sector, adding that the bank of Industry (BOI) lending rates was prohibitive and detrimental to industry.

He stressed that no industrial concern can survive on the 15% rate charged by the bank.

Responding to the complaints, the minister promised that the Federal Government would look into some of the challenges that manufacturers were experiencing, vowing to provide an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

“We will address some of the challenges your sector is experiencing by providing an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

We are indeed addressing it in the various policies we have come up with, financing is a main issue in the sector and we are prepared to address it.

Currently we are working on addressing the Sorghum challenge there is no good reason for it to be imported based on what l have seen today. In the shortest possible time you will experience a relief in your line of business as government is building linkages across sector,” the minister said.

Beverage Industry News NG