Critical stakeholders in the agricultural sector have urged farmers to adopt the commercialised genetically modified cotton seeds which have the capacity to revive Nigeria’s moribund textile industry.
This is contained in a statement signed by Sarah Mela, Information Officer for Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), and made available to newsmen in Abuja on Friday.
Mela said the stakeholders assured that if farmers adopt Bt cotton seeds, Nigeria’s comatose textile industry would be easily revived.
She said: “They stated that many years of rigorous research have led to the development of a genetically modified hybrid cotton that can give value to farmers in all the cotton growing zones in Nigeria.
“The stakeholders disclosed this at the recent workshop for cotton farmers in Abuja, organised by OFAB Nigeria in collaboration with the US Department of Agriculture( USDA) and the National Cotton Association of Nigeria ( NACOTAN).
Mela said Mr Ravi Kumar, Business Manager of Mahyco Nigeria Agricultural seed company, disclosed that there were good varieties of seeds called Bollgard 2 cotton ball hybrids in the market which would benefit farmers.
Mela said Kumar told participants at the event that the variety had high yield capacity and was insect resistant, ensuring less labour requirements of spraying.
“According to him, about 3,000 500 grammes of seeds had been distributed to cotton farmers across 12 states of Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Niger, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba and Cross River.
Mela quoted Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) NABDA, as saying that the Nigerian government remained committed to reviving the textile industry through a reinvigorated cotton farming system.
He also said that Nigeria was also monitoring to ensure that seed companies do not compromise the quality required for the desired high yields.
Mustapha equally called on farmers to adopt the Bt cotton and assured them that the variety already released into the market was safe for the environment.
He said the varieties were suitable for cultivation in all cotton growing zones of the country.
Mustapha added: “Recent initiatives to improve the contribution of the agricultural sector to economic growth in Nigeria have emphasised the importance of cotton production in stimulating the economy.
“Bt. cotton therefore raises hope for textile industry revival as the commercialisation has started a revolution that will help Nigeria in its cotton productivity deficit.
Mela said the NABDA D-G added that the stage was set for self-sufficiency in the production of cotton as industrial raw material with the subsequent transformation of the textile industry.
The OFAB Information Officer Dr Rufus Ebegba, the D-G of National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA),said that government agencies involved in biotechnology and biosafety issues were giving due attention to cotton seeds.
Ebegba said Bt. cotton was a product of modern biotechnology that the government had put in place a world class system to protect the interest of Nigerians and the environment.
The National President of Cotton Farmers Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), Mr Anibe Achimugu said farmers had recorded high yields since the advent of Bt cotton.