NEPC trains sugercane farmers, prospective exporters in Kaduna

By Sani Idris

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) on Thursday in Kaduna trained sugercane farmers, processors, prospective exporters and other stakeholders on modern techniques of exporting the crop through value-chain approach.

The theme of the one-day capacity building was “Modern techniques in production, processing and packaging for export of sugercane through value-chain approach in Kaduna State”.

Mr. Kasim Ahmed, the Trade Promotion Advisor, Kaduna Export Assistance Office, said the training was created to teach the stakeholders the prerequisite knowledge of how to produce high premium sugarcane, processing it and packaging it for export.

He noted that there were few challenges confronting the exportation of sugarcane to the international market such as poor quality production, processing and packaging.

He said as a council and a lead Federal Government Agency in formulating export policies, NEPC found the situation worrisome.

Ahmed said the challenges had affected the export volume, value and good bargain in the international market by increasing the rejection of the products.

According to him, Kaduna State is the major producer of sugar cane in Nigeria, and that the NEPC is at the forefront of its promotion.

He restated the NEPC’s committment in
promoting and diversifying the export of non-oil products in Nigeria.

Ahmed said after the training, the participants would gain knowledge on the activities of NEPC, dynamics of export trade and exportation of quality sugar cane from the county.

He advised them to make the best use of
the opportunity to equip themselves and be ready to increase non-oil
export volume and value in Nigeria.

Hauwa Yusuf, the Managing Director, Hawy’s Foods Nigeria Limited, said in 2012, the Federal Executive Council approved the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) which included a regime of fiscal and investment incentives to provide environment conducive for the implementation.

Delivering a presentation on sugercane production and value-chain process, she said the NSMP plan was approved for implementation to reduce the country’s over reliance on sugar importation.

She added that the NSMP was also to boost local production of sugar to meet local consumption needs and attain national self sufficiency.

“The NSMP was also to create job opportunities for youth and boost income for sugarcane farmers and reduce the pressure Nigeria’s foreign reserve, and possibly earn foreign exchange from export of sugarcane value added product,” she said.

Yusuf listed the sugercane value added products to include jaggery syrups and molasse, sugarcane juice, frozen sugarcane, bagasse disposable tablewares and bagasse briquettes.

She further said Nigerla was the second largest consumer of sugar in Africa where it only produced about 38,000 metric tonnes of the 1.7 million tonnes consumed, thereby importing 1.6 million tonnes.

She also said Nigeria had vast arable land available for sugarcane farming in states like Kaduna, Katsina, Taraba, Adamawa, Jigawa, Sokoto, Niger, Nasarawa and Kwara, noting that the sugarcane value chain had great potentials if well harnessed.

Yusuf explained that there were two methods of processing sugarcane – the traditional and mechanised method.

She lamented that Nigeria still processed sugarcane the traditional way, being done in open pan on a furnace.

Yusuf said countries like India and Brazil
since evolved into mechanised method, which met the export standard for all value added product from the sugarcane value-chain.

She called on farmers and processors on the need to seize the opportunities presented by NSMP to boost sugar production, meet local consumption demand and also export to earn foreign exchange for Nigeria.

Also, Alhaji Abdullahi Bamaco, the Chairman of Sugercane Farmers, Processors and Sellers Association, Kaduna Chapter, said the training was very important to them because they only mobilised the farmers to engage in farming sugercane.

He said that after the production, they would not process it further, but ate or only processed it into jaggery.

He said that even in processing the sugercane into jaggery, the farmers would not follow healthy procedures, which might constitute health dangers.

Bamaco said with the training, they would scale it up to local farmers through various hirachy of the association, to enable them to tap maximumly from the benefits of shugercane farming.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the participants were also lectured on export procedures and documentation, and guidelines/procedures for registration as exporters.

NAN also reports that other stakeholders in the training were representatives from Zenith Bank, APPEALS project, Kaduna Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Technology.(NAN)