Niger state is dancing to the rhythm of private sector growth. The private sector DJ playing the beat is Flour Mills of Nigeria. They’re an Agribusiness company that’s been creating jobs and the food sitting in your stomach right now (I hope you have eaten today) in Nigeria since 1960. They don’t just make food for humans, they also make food for animals too.
They’ve been one of the leading Animal feed manufacturers in Nigeria since 1968. Technically, they’re still making food for humans since the animal feed makes the farm animals plump and robust so you and I can cook and eat them. We are at the top of the food chain, after all. Remember though, you have to buy the animals first. FMN is also a logistics player when you think of the supply chain from the animal farm to your plate. Talk about being a multifaceted company.
Speaking of multifaceted, FMN is making Niger state dance in happiness thanks to the phenomenon of the sweet tooth. We all have it. That craving for ice cream, or chocolates or a cake has a special commodity at its foundation; Sugar. Beyond ice cream and cake, think of the importance of sugar to beverage companies that produce soft drinks. FMN has spent five years building a massive N50 billion sugar production facility in Mokwa, Niger state. It’s called the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate (SGSE) and it’s a wholly owned subsidiary of Flour Mills. How massive? Over 15,000 hectares. We’re looking at 100,000 tons of sugar annually from the facility. It will be commissioned on March 15th.
Why would this make Niger state dance? Demand. Demand for sugar is, to use a Donald Trump term, “YUGE!” According to the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), consumption of sugar in Nigeria is about 1.5 million tons (2016 data) a year. Sadly, we only produce about 25,000 tons. The deficit of 1.475 million tons has to be covered by importation from other countries. That’s expensive. Last year, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria said we spend about $100 million a year importing sugar. So being able to get to a point where Nigeria is self-sufficient in sugar production would mean big savings in foreign exchange.
Saving foreign exchange for Nigeria is one advantage, but a bigger advantage for Niger state is jobs for the locals. Right now, FMN has employed 3,000 people which is large but the workforce is projected to grow to 10,000. Think about the impact on the 28 local communities in the vicinity of the production facility in Mokwa. At its root, economic growth is about producing something that lots of people and businesses need. So you have demand for your product. Producing it at a large scale means you demand labor. Let’s remember the four factors of production; Land, Labor, capital, and entrepreneurship. Demand for labor means job creation and the wages paid for labor creates an income stream and source of living.
Flour Mills of Nigeria also built a 30-kilometer road which has multiple access routes to the different villages in the surrounding community where the production facility is located. This is yet another advantage for the indigenes. Looking at the big picture (it’s a really big picture because this is Flour Mills’ biggest investment in Nigeria), local sugar cane farmers have a buyer for their produce, jobs have been created for the community residents, new infrastructure has been put in place, and Nigeria takes another important step towards producing an important commodity within its borders.
On March 15th in Mokwa, Niger state, we can all dance to the promising rhythm of growth.