The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) has explained that productivity data of the improved varieties of cotton obtained from farmers’ fields has raised the hope that the moribund textile industry in Nigeria would soon come alive.
NABDA’s report on farmers’ field day indicated that the performance of Bt. Cotton was a yield average ranging from three to four tonnes, while the potential is actually between 4.1 and 4.4 tonnes per hectare.
The old local varieties, NABDA said, did yield between 350kgs or 950kgs per hectare, which grossly affected livelihood and sustainability of the textile industry.
The Ag. Director-General of NABDA, Prof. Alex Akpa, while stressing the economic importance of the two Bt. Cotton varieties approved by the National Varietal Release Committee, Ibadan, said it had become necessary to use advanced technological tools like genetic engineering in crop production to generate yields at economically viable scales for Nigerian farmers and for the revival of collapsing industries.
The world has adopted various aspects of genetic engineering to meet the challenges in crop production, health and environment, he added.
He concluded that from the feedback received from farmers who planted the improved crops across the nation, there was excellent performance of these two improved varieties of Bt. Cotton
“Farmers are giving testimonies and cannot wait for the next planting season to have access to these seeds,” he said.
The Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Nigeria chapter, Dr Rose Gidado, said the variety of cotton had been chosen as Nigeria’s crop of pride because it reflects national needs and efforts towards transforming the textile industry.
Also, the Mission Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Dr Grema, expressed delight over being part of the support for the revolution of Africa’s agriculture and Nigeria’s textile industry with huge potentialities of poverty alleviation through decent employment and sustainable means of livelihood.
In a related development, the National President of the National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), Mr Anibe Achimugu, said the field day was a tip of the iceberg in the cotton and textile industry revolution in Nigeria.
While, the Director-General, Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association, Alhaji Hamman Kwajaffa, reiterated the irreplaceable role Bt. Cotton could play in reviving the Nigeria’s economy, Alhaji Suleiman Abdullahi, the president of cotton Ginners Association of Nigeria, said Bt. Cotton is a new era for the industry.