The Federal Government has said that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) for 2019 is targeting 100,000 cotton farmers across the country.
Hajiya A’isha Abubakar, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, disclosed this on Wednesday in Zaria, Kaduna State, at a one-day Stakeholders Forum on Good Cotton Seed Production to Enhance the Cotton Value Chain in Niger
The theme of the forum was: ‘Increasing the Production of Good Quality Cotton Seed for Sustainable Growth of Nigeria’s Cotton, Textile and Garment Sector’.
The minister, who was represented by Mrs Omololu Opeewe, the Director, Commodities and Products Inspectorate Department (CPID), said that the Federal Government placed much emphasis on how to improve cotton production in Nigeria.
She said that it was in furtherance of its economic diversification agenda, that the Federal Government developed the Cotton Textile and Garment (CTG) policy.
She said that the primary aim of the policy was to boost local production and the processing of cotton.
Abubakar explained that in implementing the policy, the ministry had over time engaged relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and other stakeholders to design and develop specific programmes and projects for the CTG sub-sector.
“Presently, the ministry is working with NACOTAN to facilitate access to the anchor borrowers programme of the CBN.
“The strategy is to increase cotton production and link it to a ready market to achieve self-sufficiency and create jobs.
“In this respect, it is proposed that a minimum of 100,000 farmers with two hectares each are expected to participate in the 2019 wet season of the anchor borrowers’ programme.
“On this note, a target yield of 1.5 metric tons per hectare, 300,000 metric tons of seed cotton will be processed by the ginning companies, while 114,000 metric tons of cotton lint will be available to the textile mills,” the minister stated.
The minister observed that the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) would play an important role through the provision of good quality planting seeds.
She said that the National Agricultural Extension, Research and Liaison Service (NAERLS) would provide training for the cotton farmers to supplement the actualisation of the aforementioned target.
Earlier in an address, the Director, IAR, Prof. Ibrahim Umar-Abubakar, noted that cotton was one of the most important commercial and industrial crop in Nigeria.
According to him, the growth of Nigeria’s economy depends on the contribution of agriculture to GDP and the growth of agriculture largely depends on cotton.
“In this country there are many cities that owe their growth to cotton; you cannot mention the growth of Kaduna, Kano, Lagos without mentioning cotton or textiles.
“There are satellite towns like Funtua, Gusau and others.
“Cotton is so versatile that it affects the lives of an average Nigerian, be you a farmer of cotton or a textile, garment or ginnery worker or even if you are in the business of marketing cotton or cotton seeds.
“Cotton is so important it affects one of the fundamental human needs. As humans, we need food, we need shelter, we need clothing – these are fundamental human needs.
“And cotton has successfully fulfilled one, which is clothing, and it is even into shelter now.
“Most of the emergency shelters produced for Internally Displaced Persons are now made from cotton,; we use trampoline and several other cotton materials,” the IAR director said.
Umar-Abubakar said that when people talked about cotton, they only thought of brocade, super Hollandaise, English wax and so on, arguing that “these are not all, we use cotton in various ways such as in making blankets.
“Even if we are going to specialise in the production of blankets alone, we will make a name globally.
“Rugs, carpets and prayer mats, you can imagine the amount of foreign exchange being used annually to import such products, especially prayer mats from Saudi Arabia,” the IAR director said.
The forum drew participants from the cotton farming areas and beyond.