The Director of the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Professor Ibrahim Umar Abubakar, said efforts at reviving cotton production are aimed at restoring the contribution of the produce to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said it is worrisome that cotton’s contribution to GDP has reduced significantly from 25 to 0.4 per cent, saying that everything must be done to reverse the trend.
Professor Abubakar made this known during the 2019 Annual Cotton Master Sample and Production Meeting that took place at the IAR.
Represented by his deputy, Professor Dauda Yusuf, the Director said cotton production started since 1903 in Nigeria.
He added: “Therefore farmers have been producing cotton in large quantity. However, successive governments did not show much interest, in the last two decades, towards cotton production, because of the oil boom.
“We discovered that the GDP used to be 25 per cent from cotton alone, but it dropped considerably to 0.4 per cent. However, we are very grateful to the present administration under President Muhammadu Buhari who has high interest in agriculture. The present administration wants to revive textile and garment industries and the raw material to propel the accomplishment of such mission is no other thing than cotton.”
Professor Abubakar said IAR recently released three new cotton varieties to facilitate the revival of textile industries across Nigeria.
The cotton varieties released by the institute, according to him, are Samcot 11, 12 and 13, saying that farmers had started using the varieties, which are often pest-resistant.
He advised “big-time” farmers to get involved with cotton production, as only “small” and “medium scale” farmers engage in the production of cotton.
Vice-Chancellor of ABU, Professor Ibrahim Garba, said if Nigeria produces her own cotton and revives the textile industry, unemployment and poverty would significantly go down.
Presenting a paper titled: “Poverty Alleviation Through Cotton”, a Kano-based industrialist, Alhaji Sa’idu Dattijo Adahama, observed that the need of cotton “is from birth to burial,” hence the need for government and other Nigerians to pay what he called serious attention to cotton production.