The minister of state for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajiya Aisha Abubakar has commended Sona Group of Industries for its sterling contributions towards the steady industrialization of the Nigerian economy and manufacturing of international quality proudly made-in-Nigeria brands.
The minister made the remarks during her visit to the factories of Food, Agro and Allied Industries Limited, in Ota, Ogun state, (a member of Sona Group) on Friday, November 17, 2017 when she commissioned the ultra-modern Sorghum Malt Extract Plant with a current production capacity of 18,000 metric tons per annum and expansion going on to 25,000 metric tons, capable of producing various products like: brewing extract, high-maltose syrup, high-glucose syrup etc with local raw materials including Sorghum, Cassava starch. The factory is a fully automated state-of-the-art technology plant from Germany.
The Minister, who was visibly delighted, was told that the factory also has a malting plant production capacity (for production of malted Sorghum) of 35,000 metric ton/annum with new additional plants for further expansion to 135,000 metric ton/annum.
Mr. Ashok Manghnani. The Chief Operating Officer of Sona Group affirmed that Food, Agro & Allied Industries Limited has the largest and most modern malt extract and malting plant in Africa. Manghnani informed the minister that Sona Group’s investment is fast approaching the 1 billion USD mark with over $650m invested so far, He said that Nigeria has what it takes to produce what it needs and assured that in every industry any of its member companies is involved in, they could supply the full needs of the Nigerian market if the right policies to support local production are strictly enunciated and enforced.
Despite the challenging operating environment, Manghnani disclosed that its member companies are already exporting its proudly made-in-Nigeria brands to countries across West Africa. He decried the unrestrained importation and dumping of goods in Nigeria due to very low import tariff and duty, noting that unless this was urgently reviewed to promote local production, the desired boost in local production of goods by the Buhari-administration may be frustrated. He concluded that allowing importation of products that the nation clearly has competitive advantage to produce is injurious and even dangerous to local manufacturing and will ultimately harm the Nigerian economy.
The Food, Agro and Allied Industries plant produces 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.
Manghnani therefore called on the government to upwardly review the tariff from the current 5 percent to discourage unbridled importation of malted Barley as Nigeria is sufficiently self-sufficient in these (Sorghum) raw materials while companies like Food and Agro are well placed to process them as vital input to industries that need them. He noted that the products are also healthier for Nigerians.
The Group Managing Director of Sona Group, Mr. Ajai Musaddi informed the minister that Sona Group of Industries among other things are into the manufacturing of industrial, medical and specialty gases, manufacturing and recycling of plastic containers and products, manufacturing and marketing of various alcoholic blended drinks, non-alcoholic drinks, carbonated soft drinks, wines and RTDs, production and marketing of biscuits, wafers, chocolates and other confectionery products. Electricity generation and distribution. It is also involved in the manufacturing of 360-degree packaging solutions to Nigeria’s manufacturing industry. Real Estate development, with a focus on low-cost housing and industrial warehousing.
Mr. Musaddi also said “All our Companies are ISO, HACCP and member of SEDEX and comply with SEDEX international practices and assure and guarantee our quality. We strive in using 100% local raw material where-ever maximum possible. We use local sorghum, local plastic raw material etc.”
Companies within Sona Group are: Food, Agro and Allied Industries Ltd., Euro Global Foods and Distilleries Ltd., Coronation Power and Gas Ltd., Shongai Technologies Ltd. Shongai Packaging Industry Ltd., Coronation Real Estate Development Ltd., Sona Agro Allied Foods Ltd., Sona Industrial Gases Ltd., Techblow Nigeria Ltd and Jaykay Investment Ltd.
Mr. Musaddi called on the government to support local industries by reducing to the barest minimum unhealthy competition from foreign goods who, first of all, enjoy lower production costs in their home countries and still enjoy incredibly low tariffs in importing their products into Nigeria. He observed that Nigerian companies such as Sona Group can stand tall if the government provides a level playing so that importers do not have unfair advantage over Nigerian manufacturers.
In her response, the minister commended Sona Group for its sustained commitment to the economic growth of the nation through their huge investments in diverse industries and especially its backward integration programmes. Noting that its huge staff strength of almost 3,000 direct employees and 8, 000 indirect employees was a boost to the Nigerian economy.
Hajiya Abubakar also said that the current administration has set up special committees to study the special needs of industries with a view to encouraging local enterprise and foreign direct investment through the government’s programme on raising Ease-of –doing-Business index of Nigeria, concluding that with the support of companies like Food, Agro and Allied Industries Limited and Groups like Sona Group of Industries, the Nigerian economy will soon witness sustained boom and development sooner rather than later.