By George Edomwonyi
Auchi (Edo) – Mr Morris Oluwole, Edo Chairman, National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), says Nigeria currently produces 80,000 tonnes of cotton annually.
Oluwole made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Auchi, Edo on Tuesday.
“Currently, Nigeria produces a meagre 80,000 tonnes of cotton annually and we have a marching order to increase production to about 300,000 tonnes in 2019 planting season.
“This gave rise to the collaboration between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN) on the platform of the Anchor Borrowers Project,” he said.
Oluwole said Nigeria spends about N4 billion annually on imported textiles and ready-made clothing.
He said with a projected population of more than 190 million Nigerians, the needs of the domestic market were huge and varied with immense prospects for growth of the domestic textile industries.
“One example that highlights the potential of local market includes the need to support provision of uniform and clothing apparels for students, military and para-military organisations as well as workers in the industrial sector.
“In 70s and 80s, Nigeria was home to Africa’s largest textile industry with over 180 textile mills that employed over 450,000 people representing about 25 per cent of the workforce then in the manufacturing sector.
“From the over 180 textile factories in the 80s, l wish to inform you that today, we have less than 15 currently operating,” he said.
The NACOTAN chairman attributed low quality seeds, rising operating cost of running factories, poor access to finance and smuggling of textile goods as one of the major factors that led to the death of cotton production in Nigeria.
“Nigeria clearly stands out as a virgin market that must be tapped if we are ever serious to create jobs on a mass scale and reduce your restiveness.
“Therefore, all hands must be on deck to harness the potential of cotton in the agricultural sector,” he said.