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Nigeria opts for Bt cotton to revive textile industry

Nigeria feels genetically modified insect protected Bt cotton can play a role in restoring farmers confidence in cotton farming as well as reviving and repositioning the textile sector in the country. Cotton farming in Nigeria over the years has suffered because the opportunity cost of planting cotton has remained high. Cotton does not compete favorably against other lower risk crops and this has led to a dwindling of farmers involved in cultivating the crop over time. In addition, seed quality remains a problem affecting yield and by implication farmers’ income and motivation to cultivate. The prevalence of pests which leads to increased expenses in pesticides, unnecessarily hiking cost of inputs upwards, is also another contributing factor.

Lack of confidence by participants across the cotton value chain over the years has restricted the much-needed investment. Genetically modified cotton is expected to improve cotton lint quality and benefit farmers by increasing yields due to reduced insect-pest damage. Also the product is seen as safe to human, animal health and to the environment.

Nigeria is exploring non-oil revenue options to boost public finance. The cotton industry in Nigeria has a high potential for added value generation from raw material to finished goods and is a major employer of urban and rural populations.