President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday inaugurated N50 billion Golden Sugar Estate in Sunti, Mokwa Local Government Area of Niger State.
The project is a subsidiary of Flour Mills of Nigeria, a backward integration programme with 17, 000 hectares of land to refine sugar locally.
Mr. Buhari described the project as timely, in view of the appreciable growth of the nation’s economy after it exited recession.
He explained that the sugar refinery was a clear demonstration that policies of the present administration on economy diversification were on the right track.
“I want to commend the company for expanding the business and creating more jobs for our youths.
“The project built at N50 billion makes it one of the major agro-allied investments in Nigeria,’’ he said.
The President said that the project would improve the lives of indigenes of the area and called on other investors to key into similar investments for the progress of the country.
He reaffirmed commitment of the present administration to the diversification of the nation’s economy, saying that his government would continue to support investors by providing enabling business environment.
Mr. Buhari assured that his administration would continue to focus on the improvement of security and critical infrastructure development such as construction of roads, rail lines and power generation.
The president appealed to the management of the company to develop the Sunti/road as part of its corporate social responsibility.
Earlier, John Coumantaros, the Chairman, Flour Mills of Nigeria, said that the company would produce 100,000 metric tons of sugar per annum, as well as give direct employment to 10,000 people in addition to network of 3,000 small scale industries.
He said that the management of the company had installed the latest technology in the cane milling and processing with an expandable capacity of 4,500 tons per day.
Mr. Coumantaros said that out of the 17,000 hectares of plantation, 3,000 had been cultivated and ready for harvesting.
He also commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the host community for creating an enabling environment for the company to operate.
Also speaking, Governor Abubakar Bello said that the company would create jobs and uplift the economy of the state and the country to greater heights.
He said that the state government had set aside 2,000 hectares of land for mechanised farming in Tegina, Kuta, Nasko and Bida under its agricultural development scheme to boost food production.
Mr. Bello said that the project would be upgraded to train youths in modern farming techniques, beside the resuscitation of irrigation schemes and rehabilitation of 15 agricultural equipment centres across the state.
According to him, the state government is also supporting farmers to boost agriculture production by ensuring timely supply of fertilizer and farm implements among other inputs.
Mr. Bello also appealed to the federal government to ensure completion of Minna-Suleja road, Tegina-Kontagora-Rijau and Mokwa-Jebba to make the state attractive to more investors.