The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has declared that the apex bank is ready to partner the Lee Group and Jigawa State Government to ensure the establishment of a multi-billion naira white refined sugar cane factory that will generate N60 billion annually to the state.
Emefiele who spoke during the foundation laying ceremony of the 12,000 hectres of land in Garin Chiroma in Gagarawa Local Government Area of the state on Sunday, also regretted that Nigeria spends over $100 million annually for the importation of sugar which can be grown in the country.
According to him, “Nigeria today spends over $100 million importing sugar in the country whereas we can grow sugar Nigeria.”
He commended the Lee Group for investing in sugar production in Nigeria, saying, “by this initiative, you have helped in joining the Federal Government of Nigeria towards ensuring that we achieve our goal of diversifying away our economy from oil into a very important sector which is called agriculture.
“You (Lee Group) have touched the heart of Nigerians, you have touched the heart of the president, you have touched the heart of the federal government because through the clarion call of the president, you have answered that call and I can assure you that you will receive the needed support from the government.
“On our part as the CBN, I appeal to you to come over to us, whatever support you need to get this project on ground, so that in the next couple of months, we can come back and launch the programme, that support I assure you today, you will get from the CBN.”
Emefiele said sugar production is part of CBN’s core aspect of the anchor-borrower programme, while commending the Lee Group and Jigawa State government to have keyed into large-scale sugar production.
He added that CBN has concluded plans to support small farmers who are into sugar cane farming, “we will support not only Lee Group; we will also support other little farmers that are involved in sugar-cane planting so that as the farmers plant your sugar-cane, the Lee Group can also buy them off the farmers.
“Through that means, we have provided jobs for our people; and we have increased the wealth of our people. That is the anchor programme of the federal government and I want to thank all of you for being here today.”
The CBN governor who hailed Governor Muhammad Badaru Abubakar for investing in agriculture, said: “Jigawa State is doing its best; even using its own little resources to support the efforts of the federal government in the anchor-borrower programme for rice.
“Only a couple of months ago, we were here in Jigawa State to see the harvesting of rice, today we have seen a foundation laying ceremony for a 12,000 hectres of land for growing sugar-cane. I congratulate you, Badaru and I can only assure you that whatever support you need from CBN, you will get from us.”
Speaking at the occasion, Badaru described the factory as an industrial complex which is designed to generate an all-year round employment, with over 15,000 workforce, just as 12 settlements have already been relocated and compensated.
The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, noted that the cultivation of sugar, rice, wheat and milk form part of the 2017 budget in the agriculture sector as crops to be used in generating foreign exchange.
Ogbeh added: “We cannot survive from continuous importation of these products. Our youths are suffering from unemployment, but the jobs are in the farms and not in the ministries. Our plan is to create millionaire farmers in the country.”