Cotton farmers under the aegis of National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN) have received four metric tonnes of improved cottonseeds from the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC).
The Director-General of the council, Dr. Hussaini Doko Ibrahim, while addressing the farmers at the official ceremony held at the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria, recently, said the council was concerned by the declining performance of the Cotton, Textiles and Garment sector (CTG), and was, therefore, motivated to continue boosting cotton production. He said this was to enable idle ginneries starved of cotton seed to come back to operation.
“In continuation of the boosting programme, RMRDC presented 5.82 tonnes of cotton seeds to farmers in 2015 and 4.3 tonnes of improved cotton seeds (SAMCOT 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 13) to all cotton farmers under the umbrella of National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN) in 2016. The council is today providing additional four tonnes of cotton seeds (Samcot 8, 9 and 10) to farmers under the umbrella of the National Cotton Growers Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN) for this year’s planting season,” he said.
Dr. Ibrahim lamented that out of the 54 ginneries available in Nigeria, only 22 were functioning, albeit at very low capacity utilisation. He added that this trend had a spirally limiting effect on the cotton value chain development locally, culminating in the folding up of several textile industries (83) between 1995 and 2017, and leaving only 23 functioning at low capacity utilisation.
“Ginning capacity of the existing ginneries is about 650,000 tonnes of seed cotton but current production is less than 60,000 tonnes per annum; representing about 10 per cent capacity utilisation,” he stressed.
Also speaking, Prof. Ibrahim Umar Abubakar, the Executive Director, IAR, Zaria, stated that the institute had developed six different cotton varieties for local use.
He emphasised that the present administration’s focus was on the need for diversification of the economy from oil-dependent to agriculture. He said agriculture was contributing about 45 presently to the nation’s GDP.
In an effort to achieve economic diversification, the government has tried to revive cotton production through the activities of the Presidential Committee on Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG).
The director also said there was enormous potential associated with the entire cotton value chain. He, therefore, challenged the private sector, ginners, farmers and all stakeholders to assist in mass production of cotton seeds in order to meet national demand.
The President of National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), represented by the National Secretary-General, Alhaji Hassan Buhari, expressed gratitude to RMRDC and other relevant stakeholders for making cotton seeds available to NACOTAN for the 2017 planting season.
He, however, challenged government to assist in the area of cotton market to enable cotton farmers market their produce easily.