The Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) has begun intensive training for registered cotton farmers in the South-West, North-East and North-West zones of the country.
The training, according to the council, was for farmers to adopt global best practices which can make the production system and products globally competitive.
The Director-General of RMRDC, Dr. H. D. Ibrahim, who addressed the farmers at the venue of the South-west training centre in Ibadan, lamented that Nigeria’s over reliance on imported raw materials and products has led to the non-development of the country’s raw materials’ base for the textile industries.
Dr. Ibrahim, whose speech was delivered by Dr. G.G. Awolehin, said there was need for a holistic policy thrust and action agenda to develop and harness the natural and synthetic fibres potentials of the country in view of the vast land available for cultivation of a wide range of agricultural raw materials and its natural gift of petrochemical resources.
He said in an effort to boost cotton crop productivity in the country, the council had between 2015 and 2017 distributed about 14 tonnes of improved cotton seeds of different varieties to cotton farmers nation-wide.
“We are concerned that there is the need to continue the boosting exercise so that raw materials could be available for textile industries. The cotton production is still a far cry from the capacities of the ginning companies which is put at about 650,000 metric tonnes of cotton while production is still below 70,000 tonnes,’’ he said.
The D-G noted that one of the critical factors towards achieving improved and high quality yield of cotton is the adequate and up-to-date training of the farmers who cultivate and handle the commodity from planting to harvesting.
He expressed optimism that the training would have a long lasting positive effect on the total output of cotton in the present planting season.
Pastor Adebayo Olayemi, who represented the President of the National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), commended RMRDC and the Institute of Agricultural Research in Zaria, for providing cotton seeds as well as training for cotton farmers in the country.
In his address, the Permanent Secretary, Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. V. A Atilola, enumerated major constraints facing cotton farmers in the country to include lack of fertiliser, absence of frequency of spray, market opportunities, inadequate knowledge of the production packages as well as non-availability of technology.
He said the state is determined to boost production of crops, especially the ones it has comparative advantage in.
Some of the farmers, who participated at the training commended the RMRDC for its interest in developing cotton production in Nigeria, assuring that they would make good use of the knowledge gained from the training.
The training has its theme as ‘Capacity Building Training for Cotton Farmers on Appropriate Agronomic Practices for Cotton Production’.