Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc (FMN), one of the only two sugar mills in the country, capable of producing crystallized sugar from locally grown sugar cane and one of the largest Agro-allied investments ever seen in Nigeria, has made history when its Sunti Golden Sugar Estate started producing sugar this week in its new N45 billion Sugar Mill near Mokwa in Niger State.
Sunti Golden Sugar is wholly owned by FMN and comprises of over 20,000 hectares of irrigable farm land and a giant sugar factory using latest technologies to mill up to 4,500 metric tons of sugar cane per day.
It is to be remembered that the federal government introduced the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) in order to reduce dependence on imported sugar, which encouraged the company to invest in this Backward Integration programme at Sunti Golden Sugar.
According to a statement obtained from the company yesterday, Flour Mills of Nigeria is one of the biggest producers of sugar in the country and has already invested N50 billion in a state-of-the-art sugar refinery in Apapa capable of refining up 2,000mt of sugar per day.
This first stage of the group’s investment in local sugar production will produce over 100 000mt of sugar, create over 25 000 new jobs, generate 10MW of excess electricity, produce animal feeds and fertiliser from the sugar molasses by products and save over 50 million dollars in foreign exchange for the nation.
The project in Niger State has received strong backing from the federal government through the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) and has been partly financed with a N25 billion loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at subsidized interest rate.
The governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, who visited the sugar project a fortnight ago stated that: ‘This project marks the success story of President Muhammadu Buhari’s and his aggressiveness towards ensuring that we diversify our country away from oil into non-oil driven economy. A project like this is an indication that Nigeria is working’.
He indicated that the CBN was ready to support in terms of Naira and foreign currency. He commended investors who are committed to the economic growth and development of the country.
“It may look a little painful but at this time when there is scarcity of foreign exchange, this is the kind of project that we will continue to give support to,” Emefiele added.
The Group Managing Director of FMN Plc, Mr Paul Gbededo, during the pre-commissioning inspection of the sugar estate said that in spite of forex difficulties affecting the sector that their ‘pursuit of this agribusiness landmark goes to emphasise the Group’s commitment to the National Sugar Master Plan’.