Nigeria’s dream of becoming self-sufficient in sugar production is soon to be realised, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), between Dangote Sugar Group, and the Nasarawa state Government, in an epoch-making venture for a $700m sugar project that is unprecedented in the history of the country.
Also in Ibadan, the Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi has disclosed that over 10,000 farmers will benefit from Oyo State Government/Dangote Group N9bn rice production partnership.
The signing ceremony of the deed of acquisition, lease and development agreement took place at the National Sugar Development Council, Sugar House, Abuja, Thursday.
President/Chief Executive, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, said the integrated sugar complex to be located in Tunga, Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa state, comprises 60,000ha sugar plantation and two sugar factories with capacity to produce 430,000tpa of refined white sugar representing about 30% of the country’s consumption and would be the largest plant in Nigeria.
The sugar project would also provide 30,000 jobs for teeming youths in Nasarawa state.
The richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote said the Phase II of the project, when extended to cover 100,000ha will make the sugar plant, the largest in Africa.
Dangote Group has already committed the sum of N250m for community development of Tunga in line with its corporate social responsibility initiative to improve the people’s well-being.
He said the project is to further align Dangote Group with the present government’s policy of diversifying the economy, by a renewed focus on the non-oil sectors like manufacturing, agriculture and solid minerals, where the group is already well-positioned and is a leader.
“Agriculture is a key sector in the industrialisation of any nation, therefore, Dangote Group in support of the Federal Government transformation agenda in agriculture developed a sugar backward integration project plan targeted at the production of 1.5MT/PA from various sites across Nigeria, in 10 years.
“We are acquiring about 150,000 hectares for sugar plantation in Adamawa, Taraba, Nasarawa, Kwara, Kogi and Niger states.
“However, we intend only to concentrate on Adamawa, Taraba and Nasarawa states in the phase I of the sugar project with a target to produce about 1.08m tons of white sugar in the next five years”.
Aside the over 100,000 employment opportunities that will be generated from the sugar plantations in addition to job creation, sugar sufficiency and the extended values chain, the group will establish integrated sugar mills, generate electricity, produce animal feeds amongst others.
Meanwhile, Nasarawa state is also to benefit from rice mills by the end of this year.
In his speech, Governor, Nasarawa state, Tanko Al-Makura, said the giant multi-billion naira investment by Dangote is a significant milestone in the history of the people, the state and Nigeria in general.
He commended Aliko Dangote, who was conferred with the title of Jarman Tunga by the royal father of Tunga community, Alhaji Bala Ibrahim Galadima, for the gesture which will remain indelible in the minds of the people of Nasarawa.
In his welcome address, Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council, Dr. Latif D. Busari, expressed hope that the sugar agreement contains clauses that would shield its execution from political interference from which most projects suffered in recent times.
The Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi , in the same vein, has disclosed that over 10,000 farmers will benefit from Oyo State Government/Dangote Group N9bn rice production partnership.
Sen. Ajimobi made this disclosure at the official launch of WAMCO Milk Collection Centre, Saki, saying that the milk collection Centre is the fifth of its kind and has a total milk collection capacity of about 40,000 liters per day, with an average daily raw milk intake of approximately 6,000 liters and a peak of more than 20,000 liters.
The Governor explained that a strong delegation from the state comprising of the Commissioners of Agriculture, Lands, Special Adviser, Projects and other senior government officials had a fruitful meeting with the Dangote Group with the Chairman of the Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote in attendance at Dangote Corporate Headquarters, Lagos on Thursday 1st June, 017.
According to Senator Ajimobi, “A huge outcome of the meeting is Dangote Group’s decision to invest over N9billion to establish Nigeria’s biggest rice processing facility in Oyo State. This will be a very viable project because of the rich Rice belt in the Oke Ogun area of the state.
“Dangote’s 16ton/hr Integrated Rice Mill will require paddy from a minimum of 20,000 Ha cultivated land. Dangote Rice Outgrowership Scheme under the Oyo State Agric Initiative will empower thousands of smallholder rice farmers and consequently bring Oyo State to the frontier of rice production in Nigeria.
“There is an added advantage of the plant other than rice processing. The plant will also utilize the waste from rice husk to generate power which will ultimately provide power to the national grid. To commence the activities to bring this laudable project to fruition according to the agreed timeline, a team from Dangote Rice Limited will be visiting the state in the coming week,” he stressed.
Senator Ajimobi noted that at least a minimum of 10,000 farmers will benefit from this Oyo/Dangote partnership, within the first 18 months of the project, noting that there would also be an increase in current market share of locally produced milk as well as creation of employable labor and expansion of investment opportunities in the state.
In his goodwill message at the occasion, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe said that the Dairy Development Programmes (DDP) under the memorandum of understanding signed between the Federal Government and WAMCO in 2011 and renewed in 2016 has encouraged Sedentarization of the Nomadic pastoralists thus reducing conflicts between farmers and the Fulani herdsmen in Oyo State.
Chief Ogbe, who was represented by Dr. John Taiwo, stressed that the DDP has facilitated milk processing in Iseyin, Alaga, Fasola, Maya and the inaugurated Saki in Centre, saying that this also guaranteed farm gate price for raw milk in the areas.
In his address, the Chairman, WAMCO Nigeria Plc, Chief Moyo Ajekigbe noted that a key aspect of its long- term strategy of providing affordable nutrition is the DDP set up in Oyo State, explaining that the company works with local dairy farmers (including over 900 women) to grow local dairy.
Chief Ajekigbe expressed the readiness of WAMCO to share its technological know-how towards creating direct and indirect jobs for the people of the state, charging that farmers should organize themselves in clusters in order to become economic influencers through accessing loans and other financial benefits.
Speaking at the occasion, the Managing Director of WAMCO stated that the DPP program had created a model which can be easily replicated nationwide.
Dangote also indicated that it will establish largest farm in Kogi State. The business mogul made this known in Lokoja while paying a courtesy visit on the state Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
While expressing determination to have his largest farm investment in the state, Dangote disclosed that farming will be made attractive as farm inputs and other technical support will be given to thousands of youths that will be engaged.
The business man further argued that the only way the teeming youths of the state could be empowered is through heavy investment in agricultural sector, adding that the approach will ensure food sufficiency and reduction in crime rate.
He also stated that he was willing to partner the Kogi State government for rapid infrastructural development of the state.
According to him, the Dangote group is determined to collaborate the state government in areas of agriculture, security and solid mineral exploration after meticulous study of the New Direction agenda of the present administration which he described as people-focused.
“What we intend to do is to take look at the infrastructural facilities in the state and identify more areas where we came complement the state government.
“The Dangote cement factory does not solely belong to the Dangote Group of company, we are in partnership with the state government. We will establish other supportive infrastructural facilities in the state with support of the government “, he explained.
In a remark, the state Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello who appreciated the CEO for aligning with his dream to revamp the state, said enabling environment for survival of business activities has already been created.
According to him, the people-oriented New Direction agenda of his administration has made heavy investment in area of security, an approach he averred has made Kogi State inhabitable to criminals.
Governor Bello further admonished Dangote Companies to make concerted effort in reducing the environmental impact of industrial activities on host communities, saying the government is ready to complement the company fully implement all its business interests in the state.