• Govt urged to sustain efforts
As cotton pyramids resuscitate in Northwest Nigeria, the National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN) wants the government to sustain measures to prop up the nation’s production.
In the 2020 wet season, the Central Bank of Nigeria, through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, financed over 100,000 cotton farmers with 17,290 from Zamfara State, which hosted the zone’s flag-off of the 2020/2021 wet season harvested cotton and distribution to some selected ginneries.
“These pyramids of seeds cotton you are seeing today in the premises of this ginnery are parts of the cotton recovered from some of our farmers who are beneficiaries from this programme in Zamfara,” declared the state chapter chairman of NACOTAN, Alhaji Sani Dahiru, who expressed satisfaction that ABP had enhanced cotton farming in the state.
“A lot of the cotton has been processed by some selected ginneries which are to participate in the programme, and we still expect more recovery from other farmers who are to pay their loan,” he said.
He revealed that about 4,000 tonnes of cotton, representing 40 per cent of the loan, had been recovered from the beneficiaries. He added: “We are expecting the recovery of 10,000 tonnes of harvested cotton in the state from the beneficiaries.”
Dahiru recalled that cotton was one of the major sources of revenue in Nigeria before the independence, but with oil, the production declined, which led to serious socio-economic challenges in the country.
However, in 2019, he noted, President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Cotton Textile and Garment (CTG) Programme from the Central Bank of Nigeria under CBN Governor Mr Godwin Emefiele, alongside the National Cotton of Nigeria (NACOTAN), supported cotton farmers in Nigeria by giving them inputs and good seeds as loan to boost the production.
“Five years before then, most of our 50 ginneries became closed or working below 30 per cent capacity of production,” he said.
“But with this laudable programme under CTG programme, many ginneries began operation at over 50 per cent capacity, making many families get more means of livelihood by engaging them in farming and processing activities.”
He urged the Federal Government to allow one million farmers to take part in the upcoming 2021 Wet Season Cotton Farming to drive the socio-economic growth of Nigeria.
The General Secretary of NACOTAN, Hassan Buhari Tafida, also credited ABP with breathing new life into cotton production in Nigeria, noting that it gave a much-needed boost for the industry.
“The three major well-known problems affecting cotton production in the country some years back are, to some extent, addressed by the introduction of ABP programme,” he acknowledged.
They include sourcing the certified cotton seeds; poor production credit in the past because of stringent and cumbersome requirements by the lending financial institutions; and market uncertainties.
“Now our peasant farmers have access to cheaper and genuine inputs under the ABP programme,” he said.
“The ABP programme allows a farmer to just present his bio-data and farmland to qualify him to get all the inputs required to produce.”
Tafida added, “The bottom line for a farmer to produce is to have assured remuneration and favourable price. All these are locked in the complete value chain from production to processing and textile mills.”
Underscoring the employment potential of cotton in the agricultural sector and various downstream industries such as textiles and cottonseed oil mills, he noted that the ginning sector and cottonseed oil mills would employ rural and semi-urban workers.
He also observed that the means of livelihood of millions of people directly or indirectly depend on the cotton sector, particularly in the northern part of the country.
The NACOTAN scribe lauded Zamfara Governor, Dr Bello Muhammad Matawale, for the allocation of thousands of hectares of farmland for farmers.
“This gesture is the first of its kind given to NACOTAN,” he disclosed.
“We are appealing for more land very close to the dam site for irrigation, as it will help to mitigate climate change and also ensure increase cotton production.”
For the National President, Anebi Achimugu, said: “The programme, where farmers are supported with a loan to produce cotton in a collective form and the products recovered as loan repayment, is a welcome development.”
He underscored the need to sustain the programme because of its many economic benefits to the nation.
“The advantages of the value chain of cotton are numerous, especially in job creation, provision of raw materials to textile and allied industries, among others,” he pointed out.
In a remark, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, explained the programme thrust of ABP is the provision of farm inputs in kind and cash (for farm labour) to smallholder farmers to boost production of the commodities, stabilise inputs supply to agro-processors and address the country’s negative balance of payment on food.
The broad objective of the ABP is to create an economic linkage between smallholder farmers and reputable large scale processors with a view to increasing agricultural output and significantly improving capacity utilisation of processors,” added Emefiele, who spoke through the Controller of Gusau CBN branch, Buhari Abbas.
“Others include increase bank’s financing to the agricultural sector, reduce agricultural commodity importation and conserve external reserves, increased capacity utilisation of agricultural firms, creating a new generation of farmers /entrepreneurs and employment, deepening the cashless policy and financial inclusion, reducing the level of poverty among smallholder farmers, and assisting rural smallholder farmers to grow from subsistence to commercial production levels.”