Cotton was one of Nigeriaâ€™s major export commodities and formed a major component of the gross domestic product (GDP). The collapse of agriculture as a result of the discovery of oil subsequently led to the collapse of various commodities in the nationâ€™s agricultural sector, including cotton, thereby leading to a near collapse of the economic value of cotton and the sector as a whole.
The revival of the agriculture sector, and in particular cotton, began with the growth enhancement support scheme (GES) for farmers three years ago where agricultural inputs, in form of seeds and fertilisers, were given to farmers. With a population of over 15 million registered beneficiaries registered under the agricultural transformation agenda (ATA)/ GES, agricultural production has experienced a quantum leap. And so has cotton production.
The ATA founded in 2012, by the Goodluck/Adesina administration was a reform policy set to revolutionise the sector using the value chain approach. One of the commodities adopted was the cotton and it was began with the signing of an memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the West African Cotton Company (WACOT).
Speaking on the development of the cotton value chain, the WACOT project coordinator, Dr Kabir Mustaph said that the WACOT and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) had signed an MoU to boost cotton production in Nigeria. The katsina State ATA intervention has led to the improvement of cotton by 100 percent. Sustaining the tempo will revive the textile industry against the massive importation which obtains today.
They operate in the cotton production area of the state such as Faskari, Funtua, Malumfashi, Bakori, and Kafur. These are the local governments where cotton production are high and they touch all these areas; there are over 5,000 farmers who are benefiting from the programme.
Years back, cotton was produced on a high scale because it had value and farmers were into it. But in the recent past, the cotton sector has been neglected as a result of several factors which include the use of worn out seeds, such as the Simcot 8,9,10 which was released in 1977 (over) 30 years earlier. As the yield became lower, so also the demand for it went lower.
The collapse of the textile industry is another key factor why cotton production went down because there was no internal demand for cotton as a result of low or no production from the cotton houses.
Nigeria was set to become a vital economic hub again in cotton production with the cotton revolution.
This is the first time farmers are getting the governmentâ€™s subsidised seeds and fertilisers and all can see the transformation in the agriculture sector. So it will be a good thing if the federal government will ensure the scheme is given legal backing to ensure the continuity of the GES in the event of a change in government.
The federal government is urged to remain committed to the ATA/GES as the rural areas are now enjoying and it is now that they know there is a government. In those days all we got were 2/3 tiers, now we see real fertilisers and the yield has been overwhelming.
Cotton farmer and marketer from Katsina State, Mallam Mustapha said that Nigerian farmers have been greatly supported by the President Jonathan Agricultural Transformation Agenda(ATA) but suffer a lack of existing market for their harvested produce. Their biggest problem right now is that they have the cotton, but nobody is interested in buying, this is the biggest worry of any farmer in Nigeria right now, but as to the support of government, they are getting it, they are giving it to them and they are grateful.
Farmers are calling on government to support them in creating a ready market for their produce while requesting that the banks should be considerate of the seasons in giving loans to ensure that farmers are able to access loans as at when necessary.
Farmers who often depended on loans for their work were often delayed by the existing bureaucracy which could lead to a loss if the planting is late.
Today, they have top leaders of the business sector who are investing massively in agriculture. With the fall in the price of crude oil, agriculture has become the new oil for Nigeria. Over the past three years, over 14 million farmers have received their subsidised seeds and fertilisers via e-wallets under the GES program. Many of them are women, who never used to get subsidised fertilisers and seeds from government.
The success of the revolution in the cotton and agricultural sector as a whole has become the focal point of the ATA and the main trust of the agric fest according to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr Akinwumi Adeshina. Over 20,000 farmers and agribusinesses from the 36 States of Nigeria and the FCT, Celebrated the achievements of the Jonathan led administration through the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.
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