By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- COTTON farmers in Nigeria have accused China over collapse of textile industries in the country following contraband textile materials smuggled and labeled made in Nigeria that have flooded the market.
This allegation was made in an address delivered by Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Arewa Cotton and Allied Products Limited, Anibe Achimugu, at the 16th African Cotton Association, ACA, Annual Congress 2018 edition, held in Abuja, on March 14, 2018.
According to Achimugu the Nigerian textile industry, while holding the short end of the globalisation stick, lost out in the struggle with more potent outside economic forces following the damage done by pernicious economic policies of structural adjustment, the Chinese contraband had so thoroughly captured the Nigerian market that it would be impossible for the Nigerian operations to compete.
He further stated that similarly, China’s highly competitive manufacturing sector has devastated many smaller-scale rivals across Africa, Asia and Latin America in the course of implementing Beijing’s global strategy and pursuit of global ambitions, with growing dominance in global trade.
He said: “The cotton and textile industry is faced with huge predicaments of various origins and types. But, in spite of Africa’s many challenges, it is a land of many opportunities, with agriculture as means of producing food and non-food products. We are gathered here today to examine one of these, under the theme, ‘Mechanised Cotton Farming: A Necessity to Boost African Cotton Production’.
“Now, Chinese fabrics fraudulently labeled “Made in Nigeria,” which used to be a hidden international trade, is now an open trade. Their imitation fabrics come through Cotonou in Benin Republic, and undergo trans-shipment by smuggling into Nigeria in a trade estimated to be worth about $2 billion a year, equivalent to about a fifth of all annual recorded imports of textiles, clothing, fabric and yarn into the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. According to a team of experts working for the United Nations, in 2009, ‘The Nigerian textile industry is on the verge of a total collapse’.
“The textile industry was a significant non-oil sector of the economy, which provided direct and indirect employment to the masses. Besides, varied and thriving economic activities were witnessed within the textiles gates and around the host communities. The sector was such a boom that it was rated the second largest in Africa after South Africa. Can the good old days return?”
In his assertion, he said there was need to carry out fundamental reforms of the cotton and textile industry in Africa, basically focusing on a vibrant seed sub-sector, which lack of quality cotton seed and inadequate quantity should be addressed to meet the needs of farmers for seed and to achieve higher yields.
“For cotton you need long fibre, disease resistant seed varieties and those that adjust properly to the vagaries of the weather. Our seed companies must respond well to the challenge. We need to facilitate the establishment of world class seed processing plants in the first instance. Adequate financial support for farmers as well as Research and Development (R&D) on the part of governments will ensure seed production programmes are implemented to produce breeder and foundation seeds for the industry’s needs.
As part of the solutions to tackle factors negatively affecting the cotton sub-sector he called for collaboration through Public-Private Partnership, PPP, arrangement that would tap into the combined strength and synergy between the public and private sector practitioners that would enable decisions on price fixing, quality, modern technology, environment and sustainable production.
He also advocated for biotechnology adoption that would increase cotton production as some countries have adopted and applied the technology, therefore have benefited immensely, and added that the adoption of Bt cotton, has helped China, US, India and Burkina Faso, and if adopted by Nigeria would be part of national strategy to mitigate the effects of climate change and boost production.