The Raw Material Research and Development Council (RMRDC) has released over 20 tonnes of certified cotton seeds as well as 1.5 tonnes of foundation seeds to cotton farmers in the country for the 2018 farming season.
The council also suggested what should be done to rescue the dying textile industry in Nigeria.
The seeds were released to the farmers under the auspices of the National Cotton Association of Nigeria at the premises of Dangote Ginneries in Kankara, Katsina State.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the over 20 tonnes certified seeds were sourced from Dangote Ginneries Kankara while the 1.5 tonnes of foundation seeds were sourced from the Institute of Agricultural Research, Zaria.
Speaking at the event, the Director-General, RMRDC, Dr. H. D. Ibrahim, said the gesture was to further the efforts of the council in promoting development of improved raw materials for industrial utilisation in the country.
“Concerned by the declining performance of the Cotton, Textiles and Garment (CTG) sector, the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) is motivated to continue boosting cotton production, so that the idle ginneries starved of seed cotton to gin can come back to operation,” he said.
The D-G, whose speech was delivered by Dr. A. A. Ogunwusi, a director in the council, said it was disheartening to know that out of the 54 ginneries in Nigeria, only 22 were functioning, and at very low capacity.
He noted that apart from provision of raw materials for use in the sector, the council also supports Research and Development (R&D) in research institutes, mostly for the development of new and improved varieties of cotton, dyes, colourants and development of processing equipment and machinery.
“Recently, the council conducted impact assessment of the boosting exercise to cotton farmers. The assessment revealed that the yield of cotton cultivation is still very low. This challenge prompted the council to collaborate with Dangote Ginneries, , which has the capability for the production of certified cotton seeds that can yield up to 2700Kg per hectare,’’ he added.
He listed the challenges of the Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) sector to include wrong investment patterns, massive dumping/importation/smuggling of all kinds of second hand textiles, purchase and utilization of obsolete machinery, importation of virtually all machineries, fibres, raw materials and other auxiliary requirements and zero monitoring of the industry by successive administrations.
The D-G recommended that if the sector should be a reality, there is need for national focus on the implementation of the following recommendations: Strengthening competitiveness of the cotton value chain in Nigeria through enhanced capacities of stakeholders; developing and improving market infrastructure; provision of additional support for cotton value chain development in terms of provision of jute bags to prevent polypropylene contamination, improvement and upgrading of ginneries; extension services/ training of farmers and farmers’ empowerment.
Other imperatives for the sustainable development of the sector, according to him, include patronage of made in Nigeria wears, foreign exchange restrictions from CBN; concessions; improvement of the investment climate and fiscal regime; removal of tax on equipment and inputs; application of industry wide tax holiday; incentives to fast track the development of the sector across the entire value chain; capacity building and skills development; trade strategy (export promotion) and provision of input funds as obtained in Burkina Faso.
The representative of Dangote Ginning Company recommended that adulterators of cotton seed should be thrashed out and the practice should be discouraged for effective success.
The representative of the Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, while commending RMRDC for being one of the vanguards of cotton revitalization in the country, reminded the stakeholders that cotton production could only be boosted if the end users, i.e. the textile industries, were brought in place.
Alhaji Umar Nasri, who represented Katsina State agric commissioner, assured RMRDC that the state would collaborate with relevant stakeholders for the development of the cotton value chain in the country.
Earlier, Mr. Moukhtar Isah, who represented the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, said the ministry was fully committed to the Presidential Committee on Cotton, Textile and Garment sector toward ensuring that the textile and garment industries are in full operation.
The chairman of RMRDC’s Governing Board, Hon. Abdullahi Waziri Tambuwal, who was represented by a board member, Prof. Sani M. Gumel, assured that the present administration would ensure that closed textile firms become operational, the ginneries functioning and farmers happy because of ready competitive market for their produce.
Receiving the seeds, Mr. Samuel Oloruntoba, the representative of the national president of the cotton farmers, while urging the farmers to judiciously make use of the seeds presented to them, thanked the RMRDC and other stakeholders for their determination to revive the cotton sector.