As 90,000 cotton farmers benefit from Anchor Borrower Scheme
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The National Agricultural Seed Council, NASC, in collaboration with a seed company, Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co. (Mahyco), on Tuesday, presented the two Genetically Modified cotton to farmers.
The presentation was made during special field day organised for cotton farmers at Sheda, Gwagwalada Area Council, where the Director General, NASC, Dr Philip Ojo, said the two cotton seed varieties willrevitalize the nation’s textile industry under the agricultural revolution drive by the Buhari-led administration.
According to Ojo science had become pertinent to advancing agricultural productivity because the old ways of farming is becoming almost unproductive, hence the need to improve productivity became inevitable.
The new Bt cotton varieties was approved for environmental release by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), and was subsequently granted commercial release by the Varietal Release Committee.
He said: “Today, we are gathered to showcase the performance of the recently released Bt cotton varieties that can enhance our nation’s agricultural productivity and revive our cotton, garment and textile sub-sector, which is in line with Mr President objective to bring back the lost glory of the textile industry.
“To achieve the objectives of Mr President alongside the exponential rise in world population, innovation technologies creates a platform for increased agricultural productivity which will in turn address food security and combat increasing hunger and malnourishment of people around the world.
“The potential for economic growth arising from the cultivation of genetically engineered crops in Nigeria is high with increase access to food, good health and high productivity. This will also attract foreign investments and earnings from modern biotechnology leading to wealth creation.
The NASC boss also explained the new varieties are cost effective for farmers, because they require minimal use of chemicals and water, reduced crop loss and increased yield per hectare and would create massive jobs for the youth.
“These technologies we demonstrate today through the Bt cotton increases farmers revenue by reducing production cost through the uss of fewer chemicals and water reduction in crop losses while achieving consistent higher productivity per hectare, with the potential of taking many out of poverty through economic gains gotten from increased agricultural productivity.
“The outcome of this development will result in the creation of millions of jobs as well as ensure economic properity for the country.This lofty dream cannot be achieved without viable cotton seed system in place that will meet the demand of seed cotton and its associated products.
“With the potentials and environmental endowments we have as a country, the adoption and promotion of this agricultural innovation through the Bt cotton technology gives us as advantage to emerge a d become global exporters of cotton and its associated products”, he said.
Also speaking at the field day, the National of President of National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), Mr Anibe Achimugu expressed delight over the new cotton varieties performances.
Achimugu maintained that cotton is the bedrock of the textile industry, and expressed hope that cotton farmers would be encouraged with the performance of the new cotton seed varieties.
“We are seeing physically all that we have been reading about asked on cotton planting seed, and I know that experiments and trials were done through the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) and with farmers across the nation.
“And I tell you that what you are seeing here are a taste of better days and times to come for farmers. Of course the bedrock of the cotton, textile and garment sector of Nigeria is cotton farming, and we are praying that farmers would be encouraged with the yield that you can see and of course the quality of the cotton would encourage the textile industry the spinners, even the ginners to be able to sustain the businesses.
“The work that has been done and what am sure they are going to speak to us about is something that I believe would impact positively on Nigeria, we have the potential to overtakenthe production of cotton in West Africa even in Africa in general.
“This year, I am happy to announce that 90,000 farmers were able to farm cotton under the Anchor Borrowers Program of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and unfortunately we had to bring in seed from outside the country, but with what we are seeing here today and the work we know that IAR will also do along with the Seed Council, we believe that we will now have in-country seed production that will give us the kind of quality that we seeking and will put us in the cotton production map of the world”, he said.