By Franklin Ocheneyi
Sona Group of Industries has requested the Nigerian government to ban the importation of sorghum, barley and biscuits into the country.
The group said that unless the government takes this bold step the local industries will be endangered due to unhealthy competition.
Mr.Ajai Musaddi the Group Managing Director of the group, made the call during the commissioning of a $50 million malting and malt extract plant of Food, Agro and Allied Industries Limited, a subsidiary of Sona Group, at Ota-Ogun State, by the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar.
Musaddi stressed that importing products where the country has a comparative advantage will not allow the local industries to thrive and it will eventually affect economic growth.
Mr Ashok Manghnani, the Group’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “We produce a vast range of quality products including quality malted sorghum, malt extract, maltose syrup, glucose syrup a substitute for imported sugar.
“The products are key inputs in breweries, biscuits manufacturing, confectionery& pharmaceutical companies as well as other food and beverage industries. Our fully automated plant can produce 25,000 tons of malt extract, high maltose syrup and raw sorghum. There is, therefore, the need for government to increase the tariff from the 5 percent which it currently charges to discourage importation as we are comfortably self-sufficient in these raw materials,” he said.
Responding, the Minister said that the federal government is determined to drive growth in the manufacturing sector through its programme on Ease of Doing Business and other initiatives which would help address the challenges which Sona Group and other players are facing.
She explained that there is no point why Sorghum, for example, should still be imported into the country despite the large local production base of Sona Group.
“We will address some of the challenges which your sector is experiencing by providing an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. We are, indeed, addressing them in the various policies which we have come up with it, financing being a main issue in the sector; and we are prepared to address it. Currently, we are working on addressing the Sorghum challenge; there is no good reason for it to be imported based on what I have seen today. In the shortest possible time you will experience a relief in your line of business as the government is building linkages across sectors,” she said.
Sona Group Industries comprise Euro Global Foods and Distilleries Ltd, Food, Agro & Allied Industries Ltd, Shongai Packaging Industry Ltd, Coronation Real Estate Development Ltd, Coronation Power & Gas Ltd, Techblow Nigeria Ltd, Shongai Technologies Ltd, Sona Industrial Gases Ltd and Sona Agro Allied Foods Ltd.