Abuja and Katsina — Mr Kwajaffa Hamma, the director-general of the Nigerian Textile Employers Association of Nigeria, has said that none of the moribund textile industries has been revived since 2017.
He said stakeholders in the textile and garment industries were already worried that government was putting more money into cotton production than the moribund textile industries they were supposed to revive.
But cotton farmers also claimed that government's interventions, which usually come through the Anchor Borrowers Programmme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), were always late. According to them, this often affects genuine efforts at real cotton production.
Kwajaffa said the problem of the country was not cotton production but the collapse of textile and garment industries.
Reacting to the story that cotton production is now more than domestic demand, he said it was clear that cotton is not the reason for textile industries to be moribund.
"At least most of the companies that produce fabrics already have their ginneries. It means they can farm or buy their own cotton or gin and use for their own textiles. So the essence of the CBN production is not for national consumption. The thing is that it should go in line with textile revival," he said.
He said government's intervention was supposed to be top-down, not bottom-top as currently implemented.
"If you revive textile industries, everything will be more available. That is the meaning because now you are producing and you don't know which textile to sell to; that is the issue. This is why we don't get our policies right in this country. Policies are not implemented properly; therefore, the essence of generating employment now cannot happen. This is because the essence is that you are supposed to revive the moribund industries and employ multitude of Nigerians in the streets," he said.
Cotton yields poor this year - Farmers
Majority of cotton farmers in Katsina and Zamfara states said they had suffered setback this year as a result of incessant downpours experienced in the last wet season. They said the situation affected their yields.
The farmers were reacting to the claims by Mr Anibe Achimugu, the national president of the Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), that cotton production has surpassed national demand.
Hamisu Sani Malumfashi, a farmer said although the poor yields this year affected almost every farm produce, good market price of cotton had helped to cover the deficit in their revenue.
"Heavy rainfalls permeated our cotton farms and stagnated the growth of the crop, as well as caused rot on the cotton balls at their early stage," he said.
He also expressed fears that going by the attractive market price of food crops in the country this year, farmers might hardly concentrate on cotton production in the near future.
"Demand for food is fast growing, side by side with our population, plus government policy on food sufficiency. Besides, our farmlands are fast contracting due to the growing demand of shelter. All these will contribute in the decline in cotton production, unless something urgent and spectacular is done by government and other stakeholders," he said.
Another large scale cotton farmer, Alhaji Kamilu Kankara, said he also suffered low yield due to heavy rainfall.
"Over the years, demand for food items had prompted my gradual withdrawal from massive cotton production. This year seems the worst for me as I only harvested nine bags from two hectares that were earlier giving me three tonnes of cotton," he lamented.
Kankara added that he did not take part in Federal Government's Anchor Borrowers Programme, instead he sourced improved seeds from Dangote company and financed all his activities.
"If one is serious with cotton farming, he would not wait for CBN's interventions, which always come late. Farmers are supposed to get seeds, fertiliser and other inputs not later than April, but instead, they are issued in June or July.
Last year, some farmers received the inputs in September, so how can cotton production be encouraged, especially with our collapsed textile industries? Alhaji Kamilu said.
He added that farmers participate in the programme mainly to benefit from fertilisers, pesticides and other inputs to produce other crops such as rice.
Another cotton farmer and dealer, Alhaji Sagir Sani Malumfashi, said that according to their rough statistics, only two third of what was obtained last year was produced this year due to floods in the farms and other factors.
"Rice revolution, as championed by this administration, has seriously affected cotton production. The few that produced it are now enjoying the good price of N200,000 per ton," he said
Malumfashi, however, added that the problem of late distribution of inputs in the Anchor Borrowers Programme was being addressed.
"This year, for example, we at the Cotton Producers and Merchants Association (COPMA) level distributed inputs as early as the first week of June, as against July and August it was distributed last year," he said.
He further said moribund textile companies should be put back to life if government truly wanted to see improvement in cotton production.
A competent source at the CBN said the delay reportedly experienced during the last input distribution exercise under the Anchor Borrowers Programme was being addressed.
Our source, who preferred anonymity, also informed that a number of textile companies would be resuscitated next year, in addition to those that are already working.
Also, Achimugu, the NACOTAN president said, "I know that the CBN has a firm intention to revive six to seven textile companies by 2021. The effort is on ground. It is not a day job, especially for those that have been moribund for a very long time. There are challenges here and there. We used to have 180 textile mills, so the intention of government and the CBN is to bring them back with the intervention."
What government should do
Also, Mr Hamma of the Nigerian Textile Employers Association of Nigeria wants government, through the CBN, to get the list of comatose industries and discuss with them on the modalities of reviving them.
He said that at the initial stage, the union exhibited the product, where the CBN even invited the military and got the assurance that they were going to source their uniforms locally.