The National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) has said Nigeria can bridge the 11 million metric tons of sugar demand in Africa annually if the country succeeds in the ongoing Backward Integration Plan (BIP) in the sugar sector.
The Executive Secretary of NSDC, Mr Zacch Adedeji, said this at a stakeholders' roundtable on the challenges of implementing zero-import duty incentives for operators of the BIP held in Abuja yesterday.
Mr Adedeji said Nigerians consume 1.7 million metric tons of sugar annually and 250 metric hectares of land must be cultivated to meet the demand.
"Without doubt, Nigeria has all it requires to become a top player in the league of sugar-producing nations. The council is making efforts to address challenges that have incapacitated the sector over the years," he said.
However, he said the council has been receiving complaints and reports from operators on the hurdles they face with regards to importing the machinery needed for both factory and field operations.
"The council has dug deep into the matter with a view to finding lasting solutions to the issue. We had paid working visits to concerned agencies on the issue, but it appears our efforts have met a brick wall," he said.
He added that the roundtable was to find a solution to the problem.
The Deputy Director, Tax Policy of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Basheer Abdulkadir, said BIP players in the sugar industry can benefit from import duty waivers, port charges and Value Added Tax, if they follow laid down procedures, which have been automated.
He said imports of certain machinery enjoy such considerations as long as the importers get recommendation letters from NSDC and applied through automated platforms.
The Director of Policy, Planning, Research and Statistics at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Alhaji Baba Gana Alkali, said the zero-sugar import duty incentive for machinery is a part of the National Sugar Master Plan.
He said the industry ministry was aware of the challenges the BIP operators face in importing machinery and would support the NSDC to solve the problem.