By Etuka Sunday
The National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) and the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) worth N2billion for the development of the sugar industry.
This it said was part of the implementation efforts of the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP).
According to the details of the MoU, which border on Agriculture and farm infrastructure, the NSDC and the BOA would contribute N1billion each for onward lending to growers and entrepreneurs at a single digit interest rate.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Olusegun Aganga who spoke at the signing ceremony in Abuja yesterday described the MoU as a major development in the implementation of the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) which is the administration’s strategic policy instruments
for the development of sugar industry, in Nigeria.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Ambassador Abdulkadiri Musa, Aganga disclosed that the sugar industry was capital intensive and highly integrated with field and factory processes that were interdependent and mutually inclusive.
Aganga noted that sugar estates, as envisaged in the NSMP, were usually situated on a large expanse of land requiring massive infrastructure.
The minister disclosed that the government had some serious challenges in the provision of infrastructures needed in the sugar estates. He however added that where such infrastructures were provided by the investors, the NSMP had made provisions for investors’ incentives by
way of 30 per cent tax credit on the cost of provision of such critical infrastructures by the investors.
He said the Agriculture and Farm Infrastructure Fund was established for on-lending at a single digit interest rate to industrial sugar cane growers for the provision of infrastructural facilities connected
with field operations in the industry. The Executive Secretary of the NSDC, Dr Abdulatif Demola Busari who spoke earlier stated that the NSDC agreement with BOA was aimed at providing at least N1billion that would be facilitated by the bank in order to create a pool of fund that would finance both the out-growers programme as well as some farm infrastructure needs of sugar investors.
Also speaking earlier, the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of BOA, Dr Mohammed Santuraki, said the agreement signing ceremony marked the results of painstaking efforts made by the two organisations to develop the sugar industry.