Executive Secretary of NSDC, Dr. Latif Busari and others during the commissioning of th NSI.

The National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) has said that the Nigeria Sugar Institute (NSI) would assist to raise local sugar production towards attaining self sufficiency and assist the sustenance of the 2017 Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP).

The Executive Secretary of NSDC, Dr. Latif Busari, who gave the assurance on Thursday at the commissioning of the institute that was also witnessed by Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, said that NSI would help change the narrative on sugar production in the country.

Busari, while emphasising that NSI was a critical enabler for the implementation of the NSMP, stated that the institution would support the drive for a virile and competitive sugar industry can ensure drastically reduction in foreign exchange loss.

He explained that with the sugar institute in operation, Research, Development and Innovation would be embarked upon often and Technical Manpower Development would be done through NSI in the country.

The executive secretary further said that the institute, a partnership effort between the public and private sector, and also collaboration with world-class sugar institutes in India and Mauritius, would aid the provision of clean and pure seed cane for growers in the country.

“The Sugar Council, working closely with our operators had collated the various technical manpower needs covering the plan period between 2017 and 2023, identified the training programmes and developed curriculum for the courses that would be offered at the Institute,” he said.

According to him, the institute, as a partnership project, between the public and the private sector, will be funded and managed by the operators in the industry.

“Going forward however, this institute is to be largely funded and managed by the sugar operators. It is a unique experiment in public-private sector collaboration to advance research and capacity development for an industrial sector in Nigeria and all stakeholders owe it to Nigerians to ensure its success.

“Therefore, all the Research and Development as well as capacity development functions which Council used to carry out, in collaboration with other partners are now to be handled directly by the institute, with Council’s support”, he added.

He, however, disclosed that NSI has begun to train 18 trainee instructors before the official commissioning to ensure that the ongoing plan to boost sugar industry achieve desired purpose.

The secretary noted that six of the 18 trainees were currently taking courses in agriculture and field operations while the 12 others were gaining required knowledge on factory related operations.

Busari argued that the commissioning and training would have commenced earlier but was delayed due to COVID-19 lock-down and international travel restrictions imposed to prevent the virus transmission.

Earlier, Adebayo said his ministry will continue to do its best in meeting expectations of all Nigerians with respect to industrialisation goals through a workable public private partnership.

He expressed delight at the establishment of the NSI which he said is viable to heighten the hope for economic prosperity of the country.

“This commissioning is a landmark achievement and a testament to what public private partnership can achieve. The sugar industry holds a special place in Nigeria’s industrialisation struggle. It carries the expectation of creating over a hundred thousand jobs. The NSI is one of the key instruments for its sustainability,” Adebayo said.