No fewer than 675,000 persons have lost their jobs due to the decline in cotton production and neglect of the textile sector, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Bukar Tijjani has said.
Speaking in Katsina yesterday, at a one day stakeholder’s workshop on the cotton transformation value chain, Tijjani said employment generation from the industry witnessed drastic fall from 700,000 persons “to a dismal 25,000 persons today.”
He lamented that the nation’s share of the cotton market had shrunk to near zero today and noted that, “Nigeria lost its prime position as a major producer and exporter of cotton and over the years, the nation’s position has been eclipsed by Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.”
The Minister said that the current cotton transformation agenda was initiated in recognition of the decline in cotton production this was just as he assured that federal government was determined to reverse the trend, “The federal government has commenced efforts towards restoration and transforming the cotton/textile business.”
Tijjani disclosed that over N70bn was with the Bank of Industry to be accessed by cotton farmers as part of measures to boost cotton production and noted that the nation’s target was to reach 400,000 metric tonnes from the current 120,000 metric tonnes.
In a speech at the workshop, Katsina State governor, Ibrahim Shema who assured of the state government’s support to the cotton transformation initiative said cotton was grown in 23 local governments in the state adding that the state had nine functional ginneries.
“Katsina State government will work in tandem with the federal government initiative as the cotton value chain plan will go a long way in reviving cotton production in the country.”
Stakeholders who spoke at the workshop stressed the need for continuity of government programmes and policies even as some attributed the deplorable state of cotton production to long years of neglect by government.
Among the persons who spoke was the former Minister of Agriculture, Dr Shettima Mustapha who said, “All this talk shows and slides are enough, We have to go back to the farm.”