The National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), says the closure of borders by the Federal Government has not only curtailed importation of smuggled textile materials into Nigeria but is reviving the Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) sub sectors.
President of the association, Mr Anibe Achimugu made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday.
The president, who lauded the closure of the borders, said that the reduction in the influx of textile materials into the country had boosted the morale of players in the sub sector to get back to work.
According to him, the major advantage of the closure is the control it has brought to the importation of smuggled textile materials including used clothes.
“The closure has reduced that significantly but that also put a burden on us to fill the gap. We have to start developing our internal capacities to meet the need of Nigerians.
“The association is fully in support of the partial closure of borders. Internally, we must come up with strategies to ensure that we protect our local markets and industries.
“What this means for us as an association is that we have to look inward to encourage our farmers to farm and adhere to best agricultural practices to produce the kind of cotton that the textile mills will buy.
“Also, we have seen that government has taken some significant steps in ensuring that for instance we are having more than our local capacity needs in rice.
“Rice sub sector as we all know has been constantly under threat by the influx of smuggled rice and the statistics speak for themselves.
“So, with the closure, local rice mills are very busy and farmers are getting their produce bought at good rates and generally there is a boost in rice production in Nigeria,” he said.
Achimugu canvassed that the borders remained closed until the neighbouring countries adhered to Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) trade agreements.
According to him, the borders should remain closed for as long as it takes our neighbours to do the right thing.
“We all know the borders were closed for certain reasons and for as long as the issues remain unresolved, the borders should remain closed.
“Apart from stemming smuggling and so on, the rules and regulations guiding our trading partnership with neighbouring countries under the ECOWAS Protocol has not been kept to the letter by our neighbours,” he said.
On concerns of increase in prices of goods due to the closure, Achimugu said the hardship would only last for a short period of time, saying that Nigerians should endure.
He pointed out that the law of demand and supply would eventually reduce the price of goods.
According to him, you cannot be 100 per cent right and you cannot 100 per cent satisfy all your people.
“There would definitely be those that would complain but I think we have to look at the overall impact.
“There is nothing that you do in the first instance that will not cause an immediate hike in price of commodities because the tendency is that people begin to panic and there will be hoarding and all of that.
“But when you also look at the immediate impact of mills coming back to life it shows there is positive impact and that is what we are looking for.
“If for instance we have five mills working, with the closure, the mills would have doubled. So, the more you keep that open, the more there will be investment in that sector in production and processing.
“I believe that with time the mills will continue to increase leading to so much competition and automatically the price will drop because we have the population and market,” he said.
He commended the Federal Government for its intervention in reviving the CTG subsectors.
The association president noted that the Anchor Borrowers Programme has helped a great deal in taking the sub sector out of the woods.
Achimugu added that with the intervention, the cotton association alone could boast of 151,000 cotton farmers across the country, a feat that could not be achieved before the intervention.
He assured Nigerians that the association would continue to work to ensure that cotton was readily aggregated, while farmers are trained on proper handling of cotton and use of equipment.
The Federal Government had on August 21, ordered a partial closure of the borders to check smuggling activities around Benin, Niger and Chad republics.
The smuggling routes around the country are borders in Seme-Lagos, Jibiya-Katsina, Idiroko-Ogun, Illela-Koni-Sokoto, Kabo, Saki, Sikanda-Oyo among others. (NAN)