DESPITE the Federal Government’s plan to produce 200,000 metric tonnes of sugar yearly, its importation rate has risen, it was learnt.
The Nation gathered that the country has been producing only 70,000 tonnes, far off its target because of poor infrastructure and high cost of manufacturing refined sugar.
Findings revealed that between April this year and this year about 1.3 million tonnes of sugar worth N190.3 billion ($501 million) were imported from Brazil.
The government promised to reduce sugar import by 1.6 million tonnes but investigation revealed that two ships offloaded last week at the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa, carrying 94,000 tonnes of bulk raw sugar.
It was gathered that MV Desert Hope discharged 48,000 tonnes at Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited (ABTL) while MV Virtous Striker with 46,000 tonnes of the commodity was moored at the Greenview Development Nigeria Limited (GDNL).
Sources at the port told The Nation that between March and April, this year, no fewer than 137,000 metric tonnes of raw sugar worth N23.7billion ($73.4million) was discharged at the port.
Sources at the Federal Ministry of Finance said last year, the country produced only 70,000 metric tonnes instead of the projected 200,000 metric tonnes.
At present, sugar consumption has grown 27 per cent to hit 1.7 million tonnes.
In 2014, the Federal Government promised to develop a National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) that would boost the production of the commodity for 10 years through backward integration policy to achieve self-sufficiency and eliminate the huge foreign exchange spent yearly on its import.
Also, the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) has revised the sugar tariff structure to boost domestic raw sugar production, and employment by offering a zero per cent import duty on machinery and spare parts for local manufacturing firms.
The council said it had offered a five-year tax holiday for investors in the sugar value chain; 10 per cent import duty and 50 per cent levy on imported raw sugar; 20 per cent duty and 60 per cent levy for imported refined sugar.
Meanwhile, the council disclosed that the country would depend on refined imported raw brown sugar from Brazil worth over $500 million yearly till 2020.
Last year, the country received 1.47 million metric tonnes of sugar at the seaports. The imports were 0.34 per cent higher than the 1.46 million metric tonnes of the previous year due to growing demand by consumers.
According to NSDC, the country needs $1.238 billion to meet 49 per cent of the total sugar demand by 2020.
The Council explained that Federal Governmenty had stirred $3 billion investments since the implementation of the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP).