By Francis Sardauna in Katsina
In a bid to revitalise the cotton industry in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has commenced the distribution of high-yielding cotton seeds and other farming inputs to 100,000 farmers for the 2019 planting season.
The distribution of the cotton seeds, according to the bank, will help to improve cotton production from 80,000 tonnes produced in 2018 to over 300,000 tonnes by 2020.
The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, while flagging off the distribution in Katsina Monday, said the beneficiaries would also undergo extensive training on proper farming techniques to boost cotton production across the country.
Emefiele said that insufficient cotton seeds had been identified as one of the biggest challenges bedevilling cotton farmers in the past, hence the distribution.
He said: “With the launch of the distribution of high yielding cotton seeds to farmers today, we intend to change the narrative in the cotton and textile industry in Nigeria.
“With this initiative, we expect to see production of high grade cotton lint at much improved yields of up to four tonnes per hectare, relative to current cultivation rates of less than one ton per hectare. Also included in the package are fertiliser, pesticides and knapsack sprayers.”
He explained that CBN under its Anchor Borrowers Programme, would improve the linkage between cotton farmers and ginneries by ensuring that ginneries are able to offtake the high-quality cotton produced by farmers.
The CBN governor said that 23 ginneries, spinners and several textile producing firms have been identified, adding that the bank will provide them with improved access to finance at single digit interest rate to sustain their operations and improve their production capacity.
While warning that the bank would not condone the smuggling of textile goods into the country, Emefiele restated that the FOREX restriction on finished textiles and other 42 items remained.
Earlier, President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Natural Development, Audu Ogbeh, said the textile industries in the country used to engage close to one million workers.
He, however, lamented that with the disappearance of Kaduna, Kano, Ikeja and Aba textiles industries, Nigeria has become the importers of textiles.
“We believe that with this initiative, in a short while, we shall be back among the leading nations in textiles production because we are the biggest consumers of textile,” Ogbeh said.
On his part, Governor Aminu Bello Masari said the state government in its effort to revive agriculture including cotton production has provided incentives, farm inputs, modern farming implements and financial supports to farmers in the state.
He stated that the federal government’s initiative to promote cotton production under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme would support his administration’s quest of bringing back the lost glory of Katsina cotton production.
According to him, “The choice for improved seed of cotton biotechnology, which gives yield of 2.5 to 3.5 metric tonnes per hectare against SAMCOT 9 which gives 1.0 to 1.2 metric tonnes per hectare as introduced by federal government will enhance cotton production in our country.”