The Executive Secretary of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Mr. Kamar Bakrin, has disclosed that the ongoing reforms at the Council will soon enable the creation of thousands of jobs for Nigerians.

Speaking to members of the “Industry Tracker,” a publication of the Commerce and Industry Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CICAN) in Abuja, Bakrin explained that major sugar operators have embarked on an aggressive expansion that will create high-paying jobs for Nigerians in the coming months.

“You are going to see a lot of employment because each of the sugar operators has very aggressive expansion plans, which we have seen, and we have also engaged them on what they need to do.

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“You will see a lot more economic activity. You know, both in terms of logistics and so on and so forth, a lot is going on in the sugar-producing estates, and it will translate into jobs for the local communities, for suppliers, for contractors, and all of that, because everybody is now scrambling to move.

“They are laying irrigation pipes, they are completing other infrastructure, they are expanding their factories and rehabilitating them, and so on and so forth. So, you see a lot of that. Of course, we will still continue to import sugar for some time. I told you it has quite a significant gestation period, but at least we will see those benefits very soon. And you know, there is nothing better than employment. I can sit down and promise you we will crash the price of sugar and all that. But jobs are the real thing.

“I am talking about thousands of jobs. These are good-quality jobs. Some of them are factory jobs. Yes, some of them are farm jobs, and some of them are seasonal. But there are quite a number of factory jobs that will be created that are sustainable. And the economic impact on that is going to be very significant.”.

The ES reaffirmed the need for a comprehensive approach to addressing community hostility, a long-standing challenge in the sugar industry.

“We are mandating a specified amount of capital that must be dedicated to community development—roads, schools, clinics, whatever makes sense for that community.

“We are also mandating a certain amount of recruitment that must come from the host communities, as well as the catchment areas for both field operatives, junior staff and workers, and so on, as well as for managerial staff.

“And we have already engaged the operators around this, and we have gotten their buy-in.

“We are also insisting that a certain quantity of the sugar produced must be by outgrowers sourced from the local communities.

“On top of all of these, we are also creating within the council, essentially, a directorate-level stakeholder management department that is going to be directly responsible for stakeholder management.

“So, this is both in terms of host communities as well as inter-governmental engagements. I mean, other government agencies and departments, ensure that we are able to bring them on board and provide a one-stop shop solution to the challenges sugar operators are facing. Engaging state governments is also part of it,” he stated.

Bakrin further noted that the NSDC had identified 14 new “greenfield” sites with high viability for sugar production.

“To these existing sites, the NSDC has identified 14 greenfield sites, ranging in size from 6,000 to 18,000 hectares, across the sugarcane belt. These sites have not been previously cultivated and require further evaluation to determine their full viability,” he explained.

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