Samuel Bello, Abuja
Several years after textile industries in the country had gone moribund, the Federal Government has concluded plans to resuscitate the sector by supplying the needed raw materials -cotton to all industries across the country.
Acting Director-General of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Alex Akpa, who disclosed this to newsmen, during a press briefing, in Abuja, said Genetically-Modified cottons have been distributed to no fewer than 1000 large scale farmers across the nation.
Akpan also explained that the National Committee on Naming, Registration and Release of Crop Materials at its 26th meeting in Ibadan approved the official registration of 2Bt Cotton varieties known as MRC 7377 BG 11 and MRC7361 BG11.
Said he, “All textile mills have collapsed and there is no room to produce cotton. But presently, we have given 1000 GM cottons to farmers after it had undergone thorough verification by the Biosafety agency.”
When asked if 1000 GM cottons shared to farmers is not too small, Akpan reiterated that the cottons were given to large scale farmers who can employ nothing less 150-500 workers, adding that ‘this is just the beginning and government is committed to increasing it soon.
He continued, “It is just for a start and understand that 1000 farmers are large scale not small scale farmers. It is given to the major farmers who can employ 100 to 500 staffs not those who are down the line.
“I think it is a good number to start with because it will be handled by massive industrial farmers who are fully mechanized and understand the process and if there is need to increase the numbers, we will.
“Once you have an adequate environment you can farm all year crop because it is a perennial crop, it will be growing massively.
“The benefits are enormous such as job creation, wealth creation, boost the economy and other things. If we have excess of the cotton there is enough capacity to export because short supply is one of the problems in many countries and if we decide to start with 1000 large scale farmers, I think it is a very good step to achieve our goal.”
The NABDA Director General, while speaking on other genetically-modified crops, noted that Cowpea has also gone through many stages with a view to investing on it.
READ ALSO: Keke rider’s wife gives birth to 5 babies
“Cowpea had to gone through stages and what is remaining is for NBMA is to give them approval for farm. We hope that before the end of the year all these processes would be completed because we have to work with existing guidelines to get to farmers.”