The Minister of Industry, Commerce and Investments, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, assured the determination of the Federal Government to face the challenges facing the cotton industry.
The minister, in a statement issued on Tuesday by Media Adviser Ifedayo Sayo, said this was with a view to creating jobs for unemployed youth.
Addressing a delegation from the National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN) who visited him in Abuja, Adebayo said that the cotton industry had the potential to transform Nigeria’s rural economy.
He added that it could revive the textile and clothing industries with two million jobs and improve internal income at the three levels of government.
The minister said it could reduce the $4 billion import bill incurred annually on textiles and garments, earn foreign exchange and make Nigeria a global player in textiles and garments.
“In the 1970s and early 1980s, Nigeria was home to the largest textile industry in Africa with more than 180 textile factories employing close to 450,000 people,” Adebayo said.
He said industry provided more than 25 percent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector.
“Today, most of those factories have stopped operating; textile factories are operating below 20 percent capacity with a workforce of fewer than 20,000 people.
“I am pleased to announce that Mr. President is determined to change the narrative and rewrite the history of Nigeria’s struggling cotton, textile and garment sector.
“In 2019, the government canceled the distribution of rainy season cotton inputs to 150,000 farmers in Katsina under the Anchor Borrower Program.
“They are growing more than 180,000 hectares of cotton that will feed our gins. Production is also underway in many states and more will be brought in next planting season,” she said.
Earlier, NACOTAN President Mr. Anibe Achimugu called on the federal government to revamp the cotton industry to provide jobs for Nigerian youth.
Achimugu said that if the sector were to be revived, it would not only help get young people off the streets, but also help tackle the problems of restlessness, banditry, drug abuse and emigration.
He said the industry is the second largest employer of labor in the country and deserves the attention of the Federal Government.
“This will allow the industry to contribute its share to the country’s economic development,” Achimugu said.
He said that the prevailing global economic development required a broader and sustained approach to meet the challenges in the industry.
Achimugu urged the minister to persuade the Bank of Industry/Leasing Company of Nigeria for a special intervention for the cotton industry.
He also sought the minister’s support for the payment of Nigeria’s fee to the International Cotton Advisory Committee for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 periods, which he said is $58,500.
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