The federal government has announced plans to revitalise Nigeria’s textile industry with the introduction of Bt Cotton, noting that the move would create massive employment particularly for Nigerian farmers in the country.
The Director-General, National Agricultural Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Abdullahi Mustapha, stated this at a one day cotton farmers’ and other stakeholders training workshop in Abuja.
Bt cotton contains genes from Bacillus thuringiensis that make the cotton plant resistant to the cotton bollworm complex as the inbuilt insect resistance can lead to savings in chemical pest control and higher effective yields in farmers’ fields.
He stated that the federal government determining to solve the challenge, has introduced commercialised Bt cotton in Nigeria, maintaining that that the initiative is already been accepted by farmers.
He added that: “Statistics indicate that at its peak, between 1970 and1990, it comprised about 130 modern factories and supported numerous other ancillary firms, providing about 350,000 direct jobs and 1.2 million indirect jobs among farmers, suppliers, transporters, dealers, traders and exporters. Only about 33 factories remain standing and the local cotton industry is comatose, primarily due to lack of good seeds, low yields and high production costs associated with insect damage. These pests reduce yields by up to 60 per cent which has implications on farmers’ profits and have also been found to be detrimental to the environment.”
Also speaking, the Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Dr. Rose Gidado, said the workshop was designed to keep farmers and stakeholders abreast with new trends in the cotton industry.
Gidado also noted that there was need to collect the experiences of farmers who already adopted the Bt cotton, so as to know how to help them achieve better results in the production of cotton.