Cotton Production: Don calls for return of marketing board
Worried by the deteriorating condition of the cotton industry in the country, Programme Leader of Cotton Programme from Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU) Zaria, Prof. Salihu Adamu Dadari, has called for the re-establishment of the scrapped Cotton Marketing Board of 1970s and 80s.
In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Dadari disclosed that it was only when cogent steps and effective control system are taken that the industry could regain its consciousness, insisting that, its only when there is effective and efficient cotton price control mechanism that farmers can be enticed to produce more.
“For the cotton industry to get a boost, there is an urgent need for the re-establishment of Cotton Marketing Board, like in the past. The Board should also control the price to entice farmers to go into more production. “There should be an adequate and absolute marketing strategy. We need readily available market for the finished products.”
Dadari added that there should be good package for farmers, in the area of transporting finished goods to the marketing centres. “There should be a strategy to avoid banditry in their farms and on their way to the marketing centres.”
Dadari flashed back to the 70s and 80s when there was a boost in cotton production, saying: “In the 80s there was Cotton Marketing Board, that Board gave farmers the courage and the support to produce cotton for the national development. Then, Nigeria used to export almost One million tonnes per seed cotton, apart from the ones going into local textile industries.
“You know we have more than 100 textile companies in Nigeria, but now they are all moribund. They are not of use, because the raw materials that ought to be in support of the industry are very scanty.”
According to him: “We had three major cotton producing zones in the county then. We had North Eastern Zone, which included parts of Yobe and Adamawa States, Central Cotton Zone, which included Ilorin, Benue, Nassarawa and some parts of Taraba state and we had North Western Zone, which also included Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, Zamfara, Jigawa, Katsina and Kebbi States.”
On how research institutes play vital roles in boosting cotton production, the expert revealed further that: “ Through the Institute of Agricultural Research, in Zaria, we now have 13 more varieties of cotton, for example SAMCOT-A-1-2-3, up to 13. But the current ones are SAMCOT-A-9-10-11-12-13.
“SAMCOT-A-8-9-10-11 can grow successfully well in the North East, North West and parts of North Central. Varieties like 11, 12 and 13 are for long-seasoned period, like eight months, while some varieties are being supported by irrigation,” Dadari hinted.
He noted that in Brazil, the country has well-managed irrigation for cotton, saying if government can give farmers similar support, they can do more than what is obtained in Brazil.
On the just unveiled new agricultural policy of the Federal Government, he claimed that the policy was a mere political statement, insisting that, “Political statement is quite different from practical reality. African countries always dish out political statements, not minding the implementation aspect of such statements.”
The university Don urged that farmers should go for different varieties of cotton, noting that government should provide them with insecticides against cotton diseases like bacterial delight, Aphib and Cotton Leaf-Rollers, amongst others.
The way forward, he added should include: “Provision of enough ginnery machines, subsidised chemicals and fighting corruption in all the stages of cotton production from seeds, fertiliser and insecticides purchase, marketing and other areas.”
Dadari condemned corruption that has manifested in the cotton industry, which according to him caused the devastation of the marketing system, provision of inputs and other needed things and the wasting away of the local textile industries in the country.