RMRDC Moves To Address Low Cotton Production

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By Nkechi Isaac, Abuja

The Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) has developed improved cotton varieties in a determined effort to address low cotton production in the country.

The council which has been at the forefront of increased local production of industrial cotton

made this known at a two-day training workshop of the cotton, textile and garment sector with the theme “Entrepreneurship training on industrial garment production for local and international (AGOA) markets” it organised in collaboration with El-Jahab Mubarak Nigeria Limited in Kaduna.

The director-general of RMRDC, Dr Hussaini Ibrahim, said the council, as part of its mandate entered into strategic partnerships with researchers in research institutes to address the issue of poor cotton seeds identified as one of the pressing challenges of farmers in the sector.

He said: “The council in collaboration with the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria, has developed improved cotton varieties.  Among the varieties already developed are Samcot 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13.  Samcot 8 and 9 are particularly suitable for North East and North West, while Samcot 9 and 10 are most adapted to the North Central Zone.”

Listing other interventions by the council, the RMRDC boss said the council had supported cotton farmers by boosting the supply of agricultural raw materials for industrial use programme with 6 tons of improved cotton seeds and farm inputs for application on cotton farms in 2015, and in 2016 as well as the distribution  of 4.3 tons of improved cotton seeds to farmers.

He further said the council was in collaboration with both ABU and NARICT in Zaria to design and fabricate automated weaving loom for weaving Aso-oke design and that the fabrication works had been completed and test-run.

Ibrahim who was represented on the occasion by the council’s director of agricultural and agro-allied department (AAD), Dr Abimbola Ogunwusi, said the council also planned to initiate, maintain and sustain a national programme that would lead to development of extra-long, staple cotton varieties suitable for cultivation at the cotton producing zones of the country.

He tasked participants to actively participate in the training exercise embarked on to promote entrepreneurship spirit among the youth, saying it was designed to train prospective investors in the area of production of garments for local markets and for export, adding participants would learn how to exploit the AGOA market which has been extended for another 11 years.

The Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, in his address, highlighted the state government’s concern about the high level of unemployment in the country and urged the youth to embrace entrepreneurship skills which has been identified as key for job creation.

Represented by the director of industry in the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Alhaji Musa Isah Jibril, the governor told the youth that the era of concentrating on certificates alone was over.

In her address, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar, identified the cotton, textile and garment (CTG) industry as a sector with high potentials for a quick-win in government’s effort at economic diversification, noting that the Federal Government had approved the “CTG policy” which serves as a working document to address the challenges and provide the platform for the development of the industry and fast-track the revival of the sector.

She said: “The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has identified four areas of focus to guide the implementation of its mandates. These include ease of doing business, implementation of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP), support for MSMEs and local patronage of goods and services. The NIRP plan is based on areas we have comparative and competitive advantage.”

On his part, the managing director of El-Jahab Mubarak Nig. Ltd, Alhaji Ja’afar Abdulkadir, noted that the garment industry throughout the world is the single largest manufacturing sector that can provide very high employment with little investment, pointing out that history has proved that the garment industry has been a very vital support for economic growth in many developed and developing countries around the world.

He said the tailoring and garment manufacturing industry in Nigeria was very fragmented, noting that even though there are many tailors around their output remained poor in quality while their standard of work was defective with customer service non-existent.

“This translates to a situation where the Industry remains undeveloped and solely operated by dissatisfied and poorly educated members of the society, who are skilled but not properly utilized. Therefore, your training here which will make you become more professionals in the garment industry is a very welcome development that will take the industry to the next level and hopefully your generation will make the country very self- reliant,” he added.

In his presentation entitled Strategies for Sustainable Raw Materials Supply for Textile Industries in Nigeria, RMRDC’s deputy director, planning division, Dr. Gabriel Awolehin, said there were enormous potentials in the petrochemical industry that were yet to be fully tapped for textile industry.

According to him, “the way forward is setting up a Textile Council of Nigeria to coordinate affairs of the sector in Nigeria. Also, the country could become a net exporter of textile raw materials to other countries if raw material potentials of Nigeria are fully exploited. This will save the nation a lot of foreign exchange, increase GDP, generate employment and facilitate rapid diversification of the economy.”