The raging coronavirus pandemic is leaving in its trail, job losses and economic instability, however, the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate, a Nigerian company has said it is retaining all its 2,400 employees and keeping the facility at full operation.
According to Joseph Umolu, the company’s director, Corporate and Legal Services, Sunti had just concluded its crushing season, harvesting 146,200 tons of sugar cane and producing 15,860 tons of sugar. He further stated that the company also produced 9,640 tons of molasses and 11,600 MWh of electricity generated using bagasse (sugar cane fibre) as fuel. The company is now entering its cultivation season and plans to maintain high levels of employment to ensure a seamless process.
“At this time, when COVID-19 is causing so much job insecurity, Sunti has maintained its staff strength to do the cultivation of sugarcane, gapping, irrigation, weeding and fertiliser application, as well as maintaining the factory during the off-crop” he said in a press statement.
The sugar company, which is a subsidiary of the Flour Mills of Nigeria Group (FMN) also says it had employed strategic measures initiated by the FMN group to ensure the safety and welfare of employees, suppliers, customers and other stakeholders.
According to Umolu, the new health and safety strategy was part of the general measures being deployed by the FMN Group to keep all its facilities, including the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate safe from the COVID-19 virus.
He stressed that before the pandemic, the Sugar estate already had strict health and safety measures in place, therefore all it needed to do was to upscale the measures to comply with recommended COVID-19 safety protocols.
“Sunti already operates under the highest health and safety standards even before the coronavirus lockdown policy by the Federal Government.
“To help employees deal with the growing pressure of working during the current period, Sunti Golden Sugar Estates has issued palliative food products to all its employees as well as created a strategic food reserve for employees, should the disease persist and conditions become tougher,” he said.
He added that despite the restricted movement, the estate being in the essential food sector had continued full operations to ensure the availability of sugar in Nigeria.
Umolo also noted that the community had not been left out, stating that the 26 communities that makeup Mokwa had benefitted from 4,000 cartons of noodles as part of FMN’s N400m food relief programme. The company also utilised more local contractors during its harvest, thereby creating more jobs for the community.