NIGERIA – The Executive Secretary of the National Sugar Development Council, NSDC, Dr. Lateef Busari, has said that the sugar sector could contribute 411 megawatts of electricity to the national grid in line with the Federal Government’s quest to boost energy supply in the country.

He said this in Abuja when he led a delegation of the council on a visit to the Director General, National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii.

Busari said the move by the council would also create more than 115,000 direct jobs and production of 161 million litres of ethanol.

He said Sugarcane is now being seen as an energy crop through the production of sugar, noting that the sugar industry will be able to generate electricity and also produce ethanol which can be used in running vehicles.

He said the new and profitable sugar industry, which is set to emerge by 2020 to 2022, will see the creation of over 115,000 direct jobs, the production of 161 million litres of ethanol and production of 411MW of electricity through cogeneration.

He explained that for every ton of processed Sugarcane, an approximately 11 units of energy can be extracted while about 70 litres per ton of sugarcane can be fermented into ethanol from the sugar in the cane, representing about 14 per cent of the total energy content.

He said another 0.33 of methane can also be generated per tonne cane through the anaerobic digestion of the liquid by-products of fermentation, boosting the sugar-juice’s energy contribution up to 17 per cent.

“Expanding sugarcane cultivation for electricity and ethanol production might also provide rural employment opportunities and could help mitigate the exodus of rural workers into the cities,” he said, adding that the direct capital investment required for creating new jobs in cane energy is 10 per cent to 25 per cent of that required in mining or petrochemical.

He said government has increased local production and utilisation of the commodity.

“Last year, we imported about 1.3 million metric tons and it is because the prices were lower, so the refineries that are refining the raw sugar which we were importing were able to increase their capacity utilisation.

Capacity utilisation jumped from 60 per cent to 75 per cent, which means they processed more sugar and more people are buying sugar because the price is lower.

“Our priority is simple, to ensure self-sufficiency in sugar production. In other words, it is to ensure that Nigeria is able to produce all the sugar it consumes. We believe that it is an achievable target because we have all that is required to be able to produce sugar.

“We have the human capacity, we have the land, and we have over nine million hectares of land, of which 80 per cent is arable. We have the good weather, we have good soil, sugarcane needs a lot of water and we have a sizeable source of water,” Busari said.

September 29, 2014;