By Rukayat Moisemhe
Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc (FMN) says the company has taken the lead in propagating the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) agenda through its Sugarcane Outgrower Scheme.
The company made this known in a statement signed by its Head Corporate Communications, Modupe Thani, on Saturday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the scheme’s pilot edition ceremony took place at the Golden Sugar Company’s Sunti Sugar Estate, Niger State.
According to the statement, top performers in the pilot edition of scheme, an initiative by the company, were awarded to encourage dedicated and committed participation in the programme.
It noted that FMN had participated in the NSMP and Backward Integration Plan (BIP) since its inception in 2012 through its subsidiary Golden Sugar Company situated on the Niger river.
It added that the sugarcane outgrower scheme was another integrated, direct, and productive response to the Federal Government’s quest to develop the Nigerian sugar industry to ensure it attains at least 70 per cent sugar self-sufficiency.
“The company has an area of 22,000ha on which a 15,000-hectare sugar estate is being developed.
“More than N73 billion has already been invested to establish the sugar estate of 3,500ha of irrigated sugar cane and a sugar factory with a 3,000 tonnes per day milling capacity.
“The factory is the only one constructed under the NSMP and producing sugar today and once the development is complete 150,000 tonnes of sugar will be produced per year,” it said.
Mr Anlo Du Pisani, General Manager, Sunti Sugar Estate, said that prior to the progressive agricultural interventions by the company, there were no sugarcane cultivation in the area.
Du Pisani said that establishing the outgrower scheme showed local farmers that sugarcane was an easy to grow and lucrative crop.
He added that the presence of the golden sugar company estate and sugar mill at their doorstep guaranteed technical experience, support and market for their crop.
“The result has been beyond expectation and we have trained hundreds of sugarcane farmers under the out-grower scheme and have sent some to Malawi for training to scale-up their output.
“The pilot edition of the Golden Sugar Company Outgrower Scheme had 29 participatory communities, each community was allocated an area ranging from one hectare to two hectares with an average of 1.45 hectare per community.
“An overall of 42 hectares of land area was cultivated with sugarcane out of which 14.2ha was for plant and 27.8ha was for ratoon and at the end of the planting season, a total of 3,291 tonnes of sugarcane was delivered by the local farmers as harvest.
“The stated result succinctly depicts that the scheme is a huge success not just for the group but also a proven profitable venture for communities that participated in the program,” he said.
He added that the company was expanding the scheme area to cover 110ha for the coming season and planned to keep accelerating the scheme from this solid base.
FMN’s Director, Group Strategy and Stakeholder Relations, Mr Sadiq Usman, highlighted the applaudable commitments taken by FMN daily to ensure food sufficiency in Nigeria.
Usman said that the company had greatly invested in feeding the nation every day and the scheme was a pragmatic example of its commitment to Nigeria and the citizens.
“As a group, we are once again leading the industry in line with the implementation of the National Sugar Master Plan mandates.
“The results of the Outgrower Scheme pilot edition depict that first, farming, and in this case sugarcane farming is a profitable venture especially when an inclusive investor and industry player like FMN orchestrates the process.
“Secondly, we would continue to work with the Federal Government and the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) to ensure food and sugar self-sufficiency in Nigeria.
“Finally, we beckon on more local farmers to key into the scheme as all existing results and feedback has proven that the programme is an inclusive investment with a shared profit model,” he said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)