Cotton was formerly one of Nigeria’s most important exports, prior to the discovery of crude oil and there are efforts to reinvent crop production in the country. Following a meeting between representatives of the company and government officials from the southern Nigerian state this week, it was made public that WACOT has agreed to invest upwards of US$25mn in the local agriculture sector and associated value chains.
The agreement forms part of a wider strategy by the Nigerian government to diversify the national economy and reduce the country’s reliance on the oil and gas sector. WACOT — which is involved in cotton ginning, selling cotton lint to textile mills, and exporting cotton lint, gin motes and textile mill wastes — is set to benefit from this diversification, through which the government hopes to place more emphasis on the importance of the agriculture sector.
There is need for a different approach in order for farming to achieve its full potential. Former agriculture minister Akinwumi Adesina, now president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) said earlier this year that the country’s future millionaires will make their money from the sector.
The UNION gathered that in Nigerian contribution of cotton to Nigeria’s GDP dropped significantly from 25 per cent in 1980, to only five per cent in 2015. In a collaborative survey conducted by National Bureau of Statistics, Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development and Federal Ministry of Trade & Investment sometime ago, it was revealed that eighteen states produced cotton on a total land area of 399.87 hectares in the country.
The survey disclosed that Zamfara State cultivated the largest land area with 92.62 hectares followed by Katsina State with 75.91 hectares. The least cultivated land areas were Ekiti State 0.07 hectares and Ondo State 0.10 hectares.
The national production figure for cotton was 533.31 metric tonnes out of which Zamfara State produced the highest with 135.56 metric tonnes.The second largest output was 116.61 metric tonnes by Katsina State while the least production was 0.05 metric tonnes by Ekiti State. Major challenge facing cotton farmers in Nigeria today has to do with access to quality seeds. Nigerian cotton farmers are already looking forward to a law that will enable them benefit from good cotton cultivation.
The President of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Mr. Kabiru Salman is quoted as saying that Nigerian farmers will benefit from biotechnology if there is an enabling law in the country. A member of Cotton Farmers Association, Samuel Ishaku, said a biotechnology law in the country will make their member rich like farmers in other West Africa countries and developed countries that have taken to the cultivation of BT cotton.