Cotton production is experiencing decline as farmers are shifting attention to other crops that have better market, like rice, sesame, soybeans and maize.
The market for cotton has been down for a very long time, forcing many farmers to leave the crop.
In Kano State, poor cultivation of cotton has been attributed to poor intervention recorded this year.
According to some cotton farmers, the increase in cotton cultivation in the past was recorded due to the intervention, and as such, the absence of intervention was what discouraged them from partaking in growing the crop this season.
Malam Bello Gwarzo, a cotton farmer, said that when it was obvious that there won’t be any intervention as compared to the cost of cotton production, he opted to grow something else.
He explained that though some farmers did grow cotton, the long absence of water experienced had destroyed their plantation.
Similarly, the national vice president of the National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), Alhaji Munzali Dayyabu Taura, confirmed that cotton was not farmed as expected this year.
Taura attributed the poor production of cotton this year to lack of intervention, as well as some natural disasters recorded this year.
He said the NACOTAN had supported some cotton farmers to grow the crop in some places, adding that as a cash crop, cotton can’t be compared with others.
He further stated that pricing wasn’t the reason behind the poor production as cotton had a very good market value last year, and its price this year appreciated greatly, even before harvest.
“As I speak with you now, cotton prices have begun to appreciate in the market.
A ton of cotton now is sold at over N250,000 while a ton of cotton seed is sold at over N300,000.
Therefore, this is not an issue of price but that of support from concerned authorities to develop or rather resuscitate cotton growing in Nigeria,” he said.
NACOTAN suggests ways out
The National Cotton Association of Nigeria has suggested how Nigeria can make the crop one of its foreign exchange earners in the midst of the declining fortunes in the country.
The president of the NACOTAN, Anibe Achimugu, said that even though the cultivation of the crop had taken a nosedive, the recent effort of members and the federal government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is striving to revive the fortunes of the crop.
He said government needed to continue on that trajectory to make cotton a foreign exchange earner for the country.
He also explained that the crop, which he described as ‘food and industrial,’ is competing favourably with others, like maize, in the market, adding that anyone that invests in the product will smile to the bank.
Anibe stated, “I can tell you that cotton farming has taken a little nosedive from what it used to be.
You cannot compare the present situation to what was done in 2020.
But we are talking about 40 hectares spread across 17 states.
That said, we had a bit of some challenges in trying to get some things to farmers.
“We also did some things in this 2021, which is slightly different from what we used to do, concerning the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the CBN, 2019-2020.
“So this year, we did contiguous land – what we basically call block farming.
We were able to work with partners, individuals and agencies of government to provide us with a large parcel of land for this purpose.
This means that supervision of the farms and distribution of inputs and others will become easier, and offering mechanisation services will become easier than when you are spread across so many places.
Reacting to the assumption that cotton is not doing well in the market, the president said, “In 2020, the price of cotton started at N140,000 per ton.
In April, the price was 300,000.
As I speak with you, the price is soaring in the market, so anybody that has invested in cotton will definitely go home smiling.
“The price is increasing.
It is a competitive crop, compared to maize and the rest.
Let us not forget also that cotton has a wide value chain; that’s its importance.
It is the only crop that is both food and industrial.
Hardly anything is wasted in cotton.
So if you are talking about wealth and job creation, it is there because you can use so many parts of cotton in many industries along the value chain and for the food crop.
The oil is very nutritious and cholesterol-free, perfect for human consumption.
And when you crush it you have the animal feeds for cattle and the likes.
“The Nigerian cotton is well sort after internationally.
We cannot even meet the demands, but we want to make sure that we produce enough.
The mission of the NACOTAN is to produce enough for our local industries to be revived and have what they need, then we will be able to export so that Nigeria can also earn foreign exchange.
Speaking on the recent intervention of government in the sector, Anibe said, “To me, government has done well.
It is on the right track as far as cotton is concerned.
But you cannot just sit down and say you have done something and that is all; we have to continue.
There is the need to meet the demands you are talking about.
We need access to farmland.
“The government will need to invest more in clearing farmlands.
If we want agriculture there is no point in having 80 million arable lands and only 30 million is cultivated.
What about the remaining? We need the remaining so that our people can farm largely, introduce mechanisation, particularly for cotton, to meet the demand gaps.
And we will now have excess for export.
I encourage the government to continue.
We started in 2019 on the government’s programme and need to continue.
Let us not create any gap.
We need good planting seeds and enough to go round.
He said that as at 2020, 33 states had been identified as being suitable to farm cotton, including places like Akwa Ibom.
Farmers Leaving Cotton Production For Other Crops