As plans by the Federal Government to produce 200,000 metric tons of sugar locally every year failed, more of the product amounting to N190.3 billion ($501 million) was shipped into Nigeria from Brazil between April 2016 and April, 2017.
Specifically, 1.3 million tons of the commodity was imported to the country during the period under review.
Government had planned to reduce sugar importation by 1.6 million tons, but this week alone, two ships are currently offloading 94,000 tons of bulk raw sugar at the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa.
It was gathered that MV Desert Hope arrived Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited (ABTL) of the port to discharge 48,000 tons last weekend, while MV Virtous Striker, laden with 46,000 tons of the commodity, was moored last Saturday at the Greenview Development Nigeria Limited (GDNL).
Already, between March and April, 2017, 137,000 metric tons of raw sugar valued at N23.7 billion ($73.4 million) was discharged at the port.
It was gathered that the country had been producing between 35 per cent or 70,000 tons of its target due to poor infrastructure and high cost of manufacturing refined sugar. Nigeria was able to produce only 70,000 metric tons in 2016 instead of 200,000 metric tons.
Currently, sugar consumption in the country has grown 27 per cent to reach 1.7 million tons.
It would be recalled that in 2014, government developed a National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) that would boost the production of the commodity locally for 10 years through backward integration policy in order to achieve self-sufficiency and to eliminate the huge foreign exchange spent annually on the importation of the commodity.
Also, the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) has revised the sugar tariff structure to boost domestic raw sugar production, and employment by offering a zero per cent import duty on machinery and spare parts for local sugar manufacturing firms.
The council said that it had offered a five-year tax holiday for investors in the sugar value chain; 10 per cent import duty and 50 per cent levy on imported raw sugar; 20 per cent duty and 60 per cent levy for imported refined sugar.
Meanwhile, the council has said that Nigeria would depend on refined imported raw brown sugar from Brazil worth over $500 million annually till 2020.
In 2016, Nigeria took delivery of 1.47 million metric tons of sugar through the seaports. The imports were 0.34 per cent higher than the 1.46 million metric tons shipped into the country in the previous year due to the growing demand by the consumers.
According to NSDC, Nigeria needs $1.238 billion to meet 49 per cent of the total sugar demand by 2020. It explained that the Federal Government had stirred $3 billion investments since the implementation of the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP).