The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele has flagged-off the distribution of cotton seeds and other inputs to over 100,000 cotton farmers in Katsina State for the 2019 farming season, with the aim of reviving Nigeria’s cotton, textiles and garments sector and improving cotton production from 80,000 tonnes produced in 2018 to over 300,000 tonnes by 2020.
Emefiele, who was supported at the national flag-off of distribution of cotton seeds/inputs to farmers for the 2019 planting season in Katsina on Monday, May 6, 2019, by the governors of Katsina State, Bello Masari and Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, as well as the Minister of Agriculture Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, also reiterated that the foreign exchange restriction on finished textiles and other 42 items remained in force.
Prior to the flag-off, he noted that the CBN had identified insufficient cotton seeds as one of the major challenges facing cotton farmers, hence the Bank sought to change the narrative on the cotton and textile industry in Nigeria through the distribution of high yielding cotton seeds to farmers.
According to him, the provision of seedlings to more than 100,000 farmers cultivating over 200,000 hectares of farmland, along with extensive training on proper farming techniques, will boost production of high grade cotton lint at much improved yields of up to four tonnes per hectare, from the current cultivation rates of less than one tonne per hectare. He said the move would also reduce the amount spent by Nigeria on imported textiles and ready-made clothing estimated at about $4 billion annually.
Emefiele also disclosed that the package included fertilizer, pesticides and knapsack sprayers, adding that the National Cotton Association of Nigeria will ensure compliance of its members with the stipulated terms for the support that will be provided to farmers.
He further disclosed that the choice of Katsina was based on the immense potential of the State as the leading cotton producing State in Nigeria. He also noted that the Bank was committed to the revamp of the cotton and textiles industry, given its immense potential to Nigeria’s growth objectives as well as the Bank’s efforts at creating jobs for a large number of Nigerians.
Recalling the glory days of the textile industries in Nigeria in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, Emefiele noted that Nigeria was home to Africa’s largest textile industry, with over 180 textile mills that employed over 450,000 people, representing about 25 percent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector. He also recounted that the industry was supported by the production of cotton by 600,000 local farmers across 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states, thousands of ginnery workers who processed the cotton from farmers, and a large number of distributors that sold the finished cloths to consumers.
He, however, expressed regrets that farmers and processors have had to deal with low quality seeds, rising operating cost and weak sales due to high energy cost of running factories, poor access to finance and smuggling of textile goods, which he estimated cost Nigeria over $2.2bn annually. He lamented that only 25 textile factories were currently operating in Nigeria with a workforce of less than 20,000 people, stressing that a large proportion of clothing materials were now being imported from China and countries in Europe
While acknowledging the support and leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, he said the Bank had placed considerable emphasis on addressing impediments to the growth of Nigeria’s agricultural and manufacturing sectors, as both sectors represent over 52 percent of Nigeria’s GDP.
“If we are able to drive productivity gains in these sectors, it will undoubtedly translate to higher growth rate for the broader economy, result in increased rural incomes, and improvements in living standards for a majority of Nigerians,” he noted.
On the restriction of foreign exchange to 43 items, Emefiele said the measures taken by the CBN were yielding the desired results and had helped in driving interest by potential investors who are seeking to make investments to support improved production of textiles in Nigeria.
To reverse the trend of smuggling, the CBN Governor said the Bank was currently gathering data about, and investigating the accounts of individuals and corporates currently involved in smuggling and dumping textile materials into Nigeria with the ultimate aim of blacklisting individuals and companies involved in the illicit trade, adding that all banks in Nigeria would be barred from conducting any banking business with the companies, their owners and top management.
“With a population of over 190 million people, Nigeria clearly stands out as a virgin market that must be tapped. If we are serious or determined in our drive to create jobs on a mass scale and reduce youth restiveness in Nigeria, the cotton, textiles and garments industry cannot be ignored,” Emefiele added.
He therefore urged all hands to be on deck to harness the potentials in the agricultural sector.
In his remarks, the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari said the Federal Government initiative to promote cotton production under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of the CBN was a welcome development as such would support the textile industry in the country by encouraging local production.
Also speaking on behalf of other State Governors in the North-West geo-political zones, the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje equally commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the administration’s effort in agricultural development. While lauding the CBN for its initiatives, Ganduje stressed the need for strong institutions to complement monetary and fiscal policies aimed at developing the Nigerian economy.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who stood in for President Buhari, emphasized that agriculture was solving many of the country’s challenges. While lauding the CBN for providing cheap credit for stakeholders in the agricultural sector, the Minister urged Nigerians, especially youth, to embrace agriculture.