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Dangote: Changing Nigeria’s sugar story, one hectare at a time

Nigeria is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest importers of sugar second only to South Africa. With a national annual import of over $337million (N202 billion),…

Nigeria is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest importers of sugar second only to South Africa.

With a national annual import of over $337million (N202 billion), the management of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc has declared its irrevocable commitment to the Backward Integration Policy (BIP) of the federal government to reverse the trend and make Nigeria self-sufficient in sugar production.

The company, which is committing over $1billion (N600billion) to its sugar projects hopes to revolutionise the economy of the states where the plantations are located and lift its people through the infrastructures that would come with the sugar projects.

Daily Trust reporter was conducted round the company’s 78,000 hectares Backward Integration Project in Tunga Awe Local Government Area. It was exciting to see the amount of investment that has already gone to the huge project on whose back rests the hope of a country to turn around its fortune for sugar production.

It would be recalled that in 2017, Dangote Industries Limited signed a landmark $700million Memorandum of Understanding with the Nasarawa State government. 

The integrated sugar complex to be located in Tunga, Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, comprises an initial 60,000ha sugar plantation and two sugar factories with the 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.

When Phase II of the project is completed, according to the company, it would make it the largest sugar refining plant in Africa.

When the factory is fully operational, it would have the capacity to crush 12,000 tonnes of cane per day (TCD), while 90mw power will be generated for both the company’s use and host communities.

Daily Trust further learnt that some 500km roads in all will be constructed to ease transportation within the vicinity.

Dangote Sugar targets additional 14,000 tonnes from Tunga project

The Dangote Sugar Refinery (DSR) is targeting to raise production capacity by an additional 14,000 tonnes of sugar from the factory in Tunga, Nasarawa State.

The factory, which sits on 78,000 hectares of land acquired by Dangote Industries Limited, targets a crushing capacity of 12000  tonnes of cane per day (TCD) with 160,000 tonnes of cane, amounting to 14000 tonnes of sugar will be commissioned by 2024.

The Manager in charge of Agriculture, Simon Ibbetson told Daily Trust that the company is currently scaling up sugar cane planting with the target to reach about 3000 hectares of cane harvest by January 2025 while initial sugar production commences in June, the same year.

He also said the current yield per hectare stands between 70 to 75 tonnes on the cultivation of 600 hectares at the Tunga Sugar Plantation with the expectation to reach higher.

 The cane comprises different improved varieties ranging from D8687, M1392/00 and R579 among others.

 He said: “We have a factory site but we don’t have a factory at the moment, we are looking at 2025 probably somewhere out there, the cane at the moment is simply building up their scale because what we need to do is when the factory starts working, we need to have a cane available straight away, to put through the mill so that we’ll be in full production.

“So what we’re doing at the moment is bulking up the canes, we’re going to have 3000 hectares that will be ready to harvest in January 2025, when that  goes in there, we will be putting the other 3000 hectares and that will be up to 6000 by the end of 2025.”

The cane plantation engages about 50 agricultural experts and 650 other farmers working in the field to bring the project to fruition.

The farm currently boasts four pump distribution points powered by a station equipped with the capacity to deliver up to 648 kpa 368/s water into the plantation on a 12hrs basis.

Though about 625 workers are currently engaged in the sugar project, upon completion, the company will employ more than 30,000 persons from and within the host community.

According to the Manager, Community Relations, Saidu Mohammad, some of the local farmers within the host community have been trained in sugar cane management, preparing them ahead of time.

 “At present, the construction of a canal and piping for irrigation are ongoing and by 2024 a factory with the cruising capacity of 12,000 tonnes cane per day will be commissioned with 160,000 tonnes of cane amounting to 14,000 tonnes of sugar,” Mohammad said.

Technical team on ground to commence construction of  factory

A technical team from the Dangote Group is currently in Nasarawa State to commence civil works for the construction of the Dangote Sugar Factory.

Maryoud Elsunni, a member of the two-man team, from the headquarters of the Dangote Group, disclosed this when they paid a courtesy visit to Governor Abdullahi Sule at the Government House in Lafia

Elsunni said they have been directed, along with the contractor to handle the project by Aliko Dangote, Chairman/CEO of the Dangote Group, which, when started, will generate employment for over 1000 people from the immediate community.

He explained that they will first undertake the construction of a bigger water pump station that will provide water across 15, 000 hectares, in addition to the already existing water pump station that can cater for 600 hectares.

Governor Sule noted that peace and stability were key elements in attracting investors, which is why his administration does not take the issue of security lightly.

“When there is total peace and stability, things flourish. Opportunities flourish. Investors are looking for where there is peace, where there’s stability to invest their money.” 

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