Cotton farmers in Katsina State have identified lack of improved seeds and low price of the produce as their major setback.
These have over the years resulted in the decline of cotton production in the state, making farmers to shift their attention to cultivation of other crops like soybeans, rice, maize and sorghum.
A farmer in Malumfashi LGA, Alhaji Hamisu Abubakar Gora, who said he had been into cotton farming for over 27 years, blamed lack of improved seeds and poor price of the produce, compared with other crops, for the decline in the business.
“Over the years, many of us here have been discouraged from cultivating cotton because of poor seeds.
“The yield of the crop has grossly reduced compared to what was obtained in the past 25 years when quality seeds could be obtained from cotton boards and other agricultural companies. We are now left with the open markets where we source our seeds through trial and error,” he said.
Cotton farming involves tedious work, more than that of maize or soybeans, and farmers spend huge amount of money in farm clearing, seeds, weeding, fertilizer, pesticides and picking in its harvesting stage.
“Unfortunately, the crop is not giving us good returns nowadays. That is why many of us have moved to maize, sorghum and rice cultivation,” he explained.
Gora identified the shortage of the produce this year as the sole reason behind its high price of over N160,000 per metric ton, compared to the last two years when its peak price was just N90,000.
He called on both Katsina State and the federal government to resuscitate cotton production in the country through the provision of improved seeds, other required inputs and a competitive price for the produce.
Another farmer, Alhaji Lawal Gwaigwaye, said he abandoned cotton farming two years ago because of declining yield due to lack of quality seeds.
He said: “I spent over 30 years in cotton farming but because of the persistent decline in its yield, due to lack of improved seeds, I abandoned its cultivation two years ago. The farms that used to give me 30 metric tons of cotton 20 years ago dropped to only 7 tons because of lack of improved cotton seeds.
“The last time I cultivated, two years ago,I only got 4 tons. That was what discouraged me from continuing with the cultivation of the crop. soybeans, sorghum and maize now give us more profit as they require less money and work compared to cotton,” the farmer said.
Gwaigwaye, however, commended the efforts of the federal government in prioritising agriculture.
He suggested that the revival of the domestic textile industry would improve cotton production in the country through increasing its demand.
However, another farmer, Malam Yunusa Marabar Kankara, said despite the current challenges in cotton production, he could not afford to stop farming it.