A few days ago, the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) in Abuja conducted farmers and key stakeholders round their Bt cotton field to assess the potentiality of the crop.
The agency said that so far, 75 field days had been conducted in different locations, exposing 10,000 farmers to the crop. The new Bt cotton varieties (Mahyco Cotton BG2) was approved for environmental release by the NBMA and was subsequently granted commercial release by the Varietal Release Committee.
Prof Akpa said the feedback received from farmers who planted the technology showed excellent performance of these two improved varieties of Bt cotton, adding that “they cannot wait for the next planting season to have access to these seeds. Nigeria is now ready for full commercialisation in 2020.”
Farmers Field Day was a replication of the field performance experienced by farmers across 12 states (Adamawa, Bauchi, Cross River, Gombe, FCT, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Ogun, Sokoto, Taraba, Zamfara) during the last wet season.
Also speaking, the national president of the National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), Mr Anibe Achimugu, expressed delight over the performance of the new cotton varieties.
“I can tell you that what you are seeing here is a taste of better days and times to come for cotton farmers. Of course, the bedrock of the cotton, textile and garment sector of Nigeria is cotton farming. We are praying that farmers would be encouraged with the yield you can see; and of course, the quality of the cotton would encourage the textile industry, the spinners, even the ginners, to be able to sustain the businesses,” he said.
Alhaji Hamma Kwajaffa, the director-general of Nigerian Textile Employers Association, said the textile industry would now have long white staple cotton of high stand for their processing.
“We have five fabric textiles. We have those that do textile accessories; they are up to 20. Then we have the garment companies that are up to 180. With this we can uptake whatever cotton we have in this country and be able to utilise it locally.
Alhaji Selman Abdullahi, the president of Cotton Ginners Association of Nigeria, also see a new era for the industry, which will revive most of the moribund 54 ginneries, out of which only 10 to 12 are functioning.