Gombe cotton farmers want price control

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Cotton plants

Cotton farmers in Gombe have appealed to the Federal Government to reintroduce price control board that will set price policy and benchmark for buyers and off-takers for uniform cotton price.

The famers who spoke in Gombe on Tuesday said that such gesture would encourage the cotton farmers in the state to be proactive and unbeatable in the farming business.

Some of the farmers said that the unstable price of cotton had discouraged many of the farmers from growing cotton as Gombe was known to be one of the biggest cotton producing states in the country.

Alhaji Abbas Na-bingi said that the returns on investment in cotton farming were no longer encouraging as a result of the poor price system by industries and off-takers who buy produce from farmers.

Na-Bingi said that cotton farming required a lot of capital to cultivate; adding that most farmers were abandoning cotton farming for other crops as a result of the poor market value and lack of profit.

“Most of us spend a lot to farm cotton and when we have, companies will come and buy it at any price. If we are to make returns on cotton, the price has to be reasonable not give-away.

“In view of what we incurred as expenses, if we are to make profit, a kilo of cotton should not sell for below N200 to N250 per tonne, however, that is not the case.

“Companies and off-takers pay between N120 and N150 only and that is discouraging because we don’t get our investment back.

“Many farmers are leaving cotton for other crops and with time, the culture of cotton farming may just die off.

“We appeal to the Federal Government to help us by setting minimum price starting from N200 per kilo as selling price for cotton because we are being exploited due to lack of price control policy.’’

Na-Bingi, however admitted that he could never leave cotton farming “it is a tradition passed on to me’’.

He also appealed to government to help the farmers in the provision of improved cotton seedlings and fertiliser to the farmers in order to boost production.

Abdullahi Mohammed, a cotton farmer from Yamaltu-Deba Local Government Area of the state said he would shift from cotton to other crops this season.

He condemned the level of exploitation by the buyers saying “If after farming cotton, I can’t get my cost price back and make enough profit to feed myself and my family too, then what is the aim?.

“If the same land can be used to grow other crops, why would I insist on farming cotton? I have changed from cotton to other crops since the price of cotton is no longer good for business.

“If government can reintroduce a price policy for cotton as it is with others, it will help a lot. We are suffering in the hands of off-takers who just buy and go to re-sell at huge prices to companies.’’

The Gombe State Commodity Depot/Exchange Centre (COMDEC) on Nov. 22, 2018 started the disbursement of N300 million as loans to farmers in the 11 local government areas of the state for the 2019 farming season.

The Chairman of the COMDEC, Mr Musa Yahaya said no fewer than 692 farmers were approved to benefit from the loans.