By Jimoh Babatunde
Members of the Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association have thrown their weights behind the application of Monsanto agriculture before the National Biosafety Management Agency for the consideration of Environmental release and placing in market of genetically modified insect-protected (Bt) cotton in Nigeria.
The body said Genetically Modified insect protected (Bt) Cotton can play an immense role in restoring attraction to cotton farming as well as reviving and repositioning the textile sector in the country.
In a release made available to Vanguard, the Acting Director General of the association, Hamma Kwajafa, explained that lack of confidence by participants across the cotton value chain over the years restricted the much-needed investment, adding that one of the root causes of this is tied tightly to the most important input in the industry, the cotton crop.
“Cotton farming in Nigeria over the years has suffered because the opportunity cost of planting cotton has remained high. Cotton does not compete favourably against other lower risk crops and this has led to a dwindling of farmers involved in cultivating the crop over time.
“In addition, seed quality remains a problem affecting yield and by implication farmers’ income and motivation to cultivate. The prevalence of pests which leads to increased expenses in pesticides, unnecessarily hiking cost of inputs upwards, is also another contributing factor.”
Kwajafa noted that with the various challenges affecting cotton farming in the country, “it is no surprise that attraction to the business is on the decline.
“Scarcity, poor quality or unattractive pricing of this raw material has direct consequences on our industry, causing it to contract with every passing year and stunting its ability to take its place as a potential key contributor to the economy especially now that the government of the day is exploring non-oil revenue options to boost public finance.”
He said that explained why they are throwing their weight behind the recent submission of an application for the environmental release and placing in market of Genetically Modified insect protected (Bt) Cotton by Monsanto agriculture Nigeria.
“This protection is expected to improve cotton lint quality and farmers will benefit increase yields due to reduced insect-pest damage.”
Kwafaja said the commencement of review process of the Monsanto’s application by the recently established National Biosafety Management Agency is a welcomed development.
“The application is currently undergoing a science-based review process together with relevant regulatory agencies and independent experts to ascertain that the proposed product is safe to human, animal health and to the environment.
He added that this is an opportunity to revive the cotton industry which has a high potential for added value generation from raw material to finished goods and is a major employer of urban and rural populations. File: Cotton 30-03-16