The Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun yesterday, August 24, said that the state is now positioned to exploit the entire cotton value chain, from growing the plant, to spinning and weaving in a ginnery, to production of textiles for clothing, furniture and other uses by the final consumer.
Cotton and its production is central to the economy of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. The cottage industry in the state has mainly women but also men producing Adire, the local tie and dye fabric which they sell in the stateâ€™s markets and beyond to make a living.
This one project will offer opportunity to open up at least tens of thousands of jobs for the stateâ€™s teeming youths, women and even men.
Unfortunately, during the Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s led administration, the government banned the importation of cotton though with right intention to increase employment, but the policy seems to have been unevenly implemented because while the dyers could no longer get cotton in the south, they could in the markets of Kano up north and this brought about great setbacks to the cottage industry in Abeokuta due to the troubles often got into with customs officers when trying to move it into Ogun State.
The confiscation of cotton worth millions of naira, the stress of trying to reclaim their seized products, and other untold hardship they experienced for over four years, all combined to convince the dyers that they desperately needed a way to buy cotton fabric locally and this desire got answered when the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment mooted the idea to establish a ginnery factory in the South-West.
A cotton trade show was held in India in 2012 which was attended by all cotton producing states in Nigeria and the event gave all cotton growers and producers the opportunity to meet with buyers with samples of cotton staple grown in their states. This staple samples were then put through rigorous tests to ascertain the strength of the cotton staple and its length, factors which affect the range, as well as the quality of the fabric that could be produced with it. It was at this event that the political considerations that often stand in the way of merit-based selection processes in Nigeria was removed and Ogun State was declared as â€œthe best cotton producing state in Nigeriaâ€.
In fact, its long staple cotton which is a by-product of the soil type and rainfall pattern is a rarity that Ogun cotton shares with Mali and Egypt who are among the best cotton producers in the world. These factors taken together with the thriving Adire industry in Abeokuta, which represented potential off-takers of cotton produced by a regional ginnery made a strong case for Ogun State giving the Gateway State the privilege to house the ginnery factory in the South-West.
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