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FG’s interventions fail to stop $4bn annual import bill on textile, apparel

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THE impact of Federal Government’s huge intervention in the cotton sector is yet to be felt as the sector still gulps $4 billion annually on textile imports, The ICIR findings have shown.

Cotton, the major raw material in the production of textiles, has been a major cash crop in Africa, mainly in Nigeria, and is grown in large quantities in the Savannah belts of the country.

Industry analysts, however, say banditry in the north-western part of Nigeria, where cotton is grown in large quantities, remains a major problem for farmers despite the government’s interventions.

The cash crop is grown in commercial quantities in Kano, Kaduna, Oyo, Ondo, Kwara, Katsina, Jigawa, Ogun, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfare states.

Findings showed that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been supporting cotton farmers with improved seedlings to close the import gap.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, said on Monday, April 4, 2022, at a meeting with a delegation of the National Cotton Association of Nigeria, (NACOTAN) that the government would work closely with cotton farmers to halt the import.

Adebayo said, “The cotton industry has the capacity to transform Nigeria’s rural economy and revive the textile and garment industries.

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“It also has the capacity to create jobs, improve internal revenue across the three tiers of government, and make Nigeria a global player in the sector.”

He recalled that Nigeria was home to Africa’s largest textile industry in the 1970s and 1980s with over 180 textile mills, which employed over 450,000 people and contributed over 25 per cent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector.

He regretted, however, that, today, most of those factories had all stopped operation, with the few still active operating at below 20 per cent capacity and having a workforce of less than 20,000 people.

The NACOTAN President, Anibe Achimugu, who spoke at the meeting, tasked the Federal Government to revamp the cotton industry to provide jobs for the teeming unemployed Nigerian youths.

Achimogu stressed that if the sector was revived, it would not only help to take youths off the streets but also help to address youth restiveness, banditry, drug abuse and emigration issues.

He noted that the industry was the second largest employer of labour in the country and deserved the much needed attention of the Federal Government to enable it to contribute its quota to the economic development of the country.

Achimugu told the Minister that the prevailing global economic development called for a wider and more sustained approach to dealing with the challenges in the industry.

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He called on him to prevail on the Bank of Industry (BoI) for special intervention for the cotton industry.

He also sought the support of the Minister for the payment of Nigeria’s assessment to the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) for the periods of 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, which he put at $58,500.

An Associate Consultant to the British Department of International Development (BDID), Celestine Okeke, who consulted for farmers on the Anchor Borrowers Programme, told The ICIR that insecurity in the North was making farming in the region difficult.

“Our farmers are becoming less competitive in their business because of banditry. You have to pay a certain amount before you can embark on the harvest. All these take their toll on farmers and competitiveness. So, beyond providing improved seedlings, the government must prime safety for farmers,” Okeke said.

Available records show Zamfara is the top region by production, of cotton in Nigeria. By 2005, the production of cotton in Zamfara was 114.4 1000 metric tons, which accounted for 24.85 per cent of Nigeria’s production of the crop.

The top five regions (others are Katsina, Borno, Kano, and Bauchi) accounted for 89.83 per cent of it.

Nigeria’s total production of cotton in 2005 was estimated at 460.3 1000 metric tons.

Author profile
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Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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