By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The $2.1 million West Africa Sugar Development (WASD) project embarked upon by the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) has finally been completed.
NSDC, in its efforts to reposition the Nigerian sugar sub-sector and reinvigorate the productive capacities of the industry to enable it compete effectively with other highly developed sugar industries of the world, secured a grant of $2.1 million from an intergovernmental finance agency of the United Nations, the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) out of which the CFC was to provide the sum of $1.6 million, while the participating institutions, the CNRA Abidjan, NCRI, Badeggi and USRI, Ilorin, were to provide $500,000 as counterpart contribution to finance a regional project titled ‘Development of Sugarcane Variety Improvement and Seed Multiplication Programme for Nigeria and Ivory Coast, which was approved in 2010 for a period of six years.
The WASD project was supervised by the International Sugar Organization (ISO), another UN body, which has global mandate of promoting the efficient production, marketing and utilization of sugar and its derivatives.
Information gathered by our correspondent revealed that the project execution was monitored and evaluated by various technical experts such as the Project Technical Consultant (PTC), the Project Supervisory Body, ISO represented by its Senior Economist Mr Lindsay Jolly and the funding agency, the CFC.
It was gathered that the NSDC identified the development of new, high yielding, disease and pest-free sugarcane varieties adaptable to the various sugarcane growing regions of the country as the foundation of higher productivity.
According to what Business Post learnt, the agency acquired 40 sugarcane varieties from some of the world best sugarcane breeding institutes like International Sugarcane Breeding Station, Combatoire, India; SBW do Brazil, Brazil; Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute, Mauritius, West Indies Sugarcane Breeding Station, Barbados; South Africa Sugar Research Institute, South Africa; USDA-ARS Sugarcane Breeding Station, Canal Point, USA and Kenana Regional Sugarcane Research Institute, Sudan.
The imported varieties were quarantined and screened for diseases at the point of entry into the country at the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, Ibadan as required by Nigerian law and were evaluated in four sites in Nigeria (Agenebode, Ikenne, Tsaragi and Numan) and two sites in Cote d’Ivoire (Zuenoula and Ferke) for selection of best varieties to replace the old poor performing ones.
At the end of the project, it was adjudged to have largely met its objectives of providing higher yielding sugarcane varieties that will replace the old poorly performing varieties that are currently under cultivation by cane growers in the sub-region.
This assertion was made at the recent Project Completion Mission and Project Completion/Dissemination Workshop held in Abuja on October 9 and 10, 2016 to mark the end of the project.
At the end of the evaluation across the six trial sites, five best performing varieties were selected. All selected varieties generally out-performed the commonly grown varieties. Four of the test varieties; B80689 and M1176/77, Kn 93063 and D8687 were good enough to be selected across two or three test locations at Numan, Agenebode, Ikenne and Zuenoula.
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