‘The Dangote Sugar refinery in Tunga, Awe local government area of Nasarawa State, will produce 450, 000 metric tons of sugar yearly, as well as 90 megawatts of power yearly when completed.
Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule disclosed this at the Northern region sugar sensitization workshop organized by the National Sugar Development Council, in Lafia, yesterday.
He said the Tunga plant will not require more than 45 megawatts to operate while the remaining 45 megawatts are more than enough to power Lafia, the state capital, Obi, Keana, and Awe local government areas.
The Governor used the opportunity to dismiss insinuations that the Tunga sugar refinery is taking a long time to complete, stressing that the sugar industry has its inherent challenges for which many people fail to understand.
Sule pointed out that the Tunga sugar plant is being stalled as a result of the numerous challenges confronting the sugar industry in Nigeria, adding that unless some of these challenges are addressed, the sugar industry will continue to suffer.
The Governor stated further that a fundamental value chain in the industry is lost due to the constraints on agricultural financing in the country.
“The masterplan for Tunga sugar plantation started 7 years ago, but we have not gone more than 7 percent. We are supposed to be at 70 percent by now. And the reason is simple. The challenges are enormous, we are used to refineries in Nigeria.
“But with the refineries, you lose all the opportunities of the value chain. You lose the opportunity of the greatest of all, employment opportunities,” he said.
The Governor equally spoke on the challenges posed by the land tenure system, which he said, is making it difficult for investors to acquire land.
“Sugar industry has an excellent formula for what we call out-grower. They can take land from a farmer, and give it back to the farmer and also guarantee to buy of this product so that at the end of the day, it’s the same sugar industry that is growing,” Engineer Sule said.
He commended the organizers of the workshop for choosing Nasarawa State as host as it will afford the people the opportunity to understand more about the sugar industry.
According to Engineer Sule, sugar has gone beyond politics and economics but that it’s actually about the society and global changes, which emphasizes on the control of pollution in terms of the use of ethanol derived from sugar rather than energy from oil.