Director, Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria, Ibrahim Umar-Abubakar, has said the contribution of cotton to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has dropped from 25 per cent to 0.4 per cent in the last two decades.
Umar-Abubakar made this known at the 2019 Annual Cotton Master Sample and Production Meeting held at Samaru, Zaria, Kaduna State yesterday.
Represented by the institute’s Deputy Director, Prof. Dauda Yusuf, lamented farmers had been into cotton production on a large scale since 1903, but regretted that over the last two decades, successive governments neglected cotton production due to oil boom.
“We discovered that due to the low interest by government in the area, cotton production has reduced considerably in its contribution to GDP.
“The GDP used to be 25 per cent from cotton alone but it has dropped to 0.4 per cent, but now we are very grateful to the present administration under President Muhammadu Buhari who has very high interest in agriculture.”
According to him, the present administration wants to revive textile and garment industries, pointing out that cotton is the raw material that would propels the accomplishment of such mission. “So, our being here today is very important to the actualisation of this noble objective of the present government. “We have to adhere strictly to what the president is doing. Of course, his interest is very much on cotton because once cotton, textile and garment industries are revived many people will be employed.
“When people are gainfully employed, definitely the level of insecurity in the country will drastically reduce,” he observed.
The IAR director said the institute recently released three new cotton varieties to facilitate the revival of textile industries across Nigeria. Umar-Abubakar identified the new varieties recently released to include Samcot 11, 12 and 13, adding that they were long staple and often resistant to pest.
“These have been released and many farmers are having access to it and very recently too, BT Cotton was also released by IAR but at the moment 1,000 farmers all over Nigeria have been given this BT Cotton for demonstration.”
Umar-Abubakar assured that the institute had been doing a lot in the area of genetic improvement of cotton varieties being one of its mandate crops and with the release of as many as 13 varieties so far.
He expressed regret that 80 per cent of the cotton producers in the country were medium-scale farmers producing with simple tools, saying non-availability of extension services and lack high quality seeds were prominent problems faced by them.
“We want the Federal Government to really come in and solve these problems. According to National Bureau of Statistics 18 states of the federation are producing cotton in large quantity.
“The area of production covered almost 400,000 hectares of land that were put into cultivation but our research institutes being our mandate crop, which is cotton have been improving in cotton production,” he said.
The Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Prof. Ibrahim Garba, urged participants to interact freely with available cotton specialists of the institute with a view to finding viable lasting solutions to problems bedevilling the textile sector.