NASC presents high yielding Bt cotton seed varieties to farmers
The National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) alongside a seed company Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co (Mahyco), have presented the two high yielding genetically modified cotton to cotton farmers at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The new Bt cotton varieties was approved for environmental release by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) and were subsequently granted commercial release by the Varietal Release Committee.
Speaking at a special field day organised for cotton farmers at Sheda, FCT, the Director General of NASC, Dr Philip Ojo, said the two cotton variety was key for the revitalization of the nation’s textile industry.
He said science had become pertinent to advancing agricultural productivity because the old ways of farming are becoming almost unproductive, hence the need to improve productivity became inevitable.
“Today, we are gathered to showcase the performance of the recently released Bt cotton varieties that can enhance our nation’s agricultural productivity and revive our cotton, garment and textile sub-sector, which is in line with Mr President objective to bring back the lost glory of the textile industry.
“To achieve the objectives of Mr President alongside the exponential rise in world population, innovation technologies creates a platform for increased agricultural productivity which will in turn address food security and combat increasing hunger and malnourishment of people around the world.
“The potential for economic growth arising from the cultivation of genetically engineered crops in Nigeria is high with increasing access to food, good health and high productivity. This will also attract foreign investments and earnings from modern biotechnology leading to wealth creation.
Dr Ojo said the new cotton varieties is cost-effective for farmers, as it requires lesser use of chemicals and water, reduced crop loss and increased yield per hectare and would create millions of jobs.
“These technologies we demonstrate today through the Bt cotton increases farmers revenue by reducing production cost through the use of fewer chemicals and water, reduction in crop losses while achieving consistent higher productivity per hectare, with the potential of taking many out of poverty through economic gains gotten from increased agricultural productivity.
“The outcome of this development will result in the creation of millions of jobs as well as ensure economic prosperity for the country. This lofty dream cannot be achieved without a viable cottonseed system in place that will meet the demand for seed cotton and its associated products.
“With the potentials and environmental endowments we have as a country, the adoption and promotion of this agricultural innovation through the Bt cotton technology gives us as an advantage to emerge a d become global exporters of cotton and its associated products.”
Also speaking at the field day, the National of President of National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), Mr Anibe Achimugu, expressed delight over the new cotton varieties performances.
He noted that cotton is the bedrock of the textile industry, and expressed hope that cotton farmers would be encouraged with the performance of the new cotton seed varieties
“We are seeing physically all that we have been reading about asked on cotton planting seed, and I know that experiments and trials were done through the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) and with farmers across the nation.
“And I tell you that what you are seeing here is a taste of better days and times to come for cotton farmers. Of course, the bedrock of the cotton, textile and garment sector of Nigeria is cotton farming, and we are praying that farmers would be encouraged with the yield that you can see and of course, the quality of the cotton would encourage the textile industry the spinners, even the ginners to be able to sustain the businesses.
“The work that has been done and what am sure they are going to speak to us about is something that I believe would impact positively on Nigeria, we have the potential to overtake the production of cotton in West Africa even in Africa in general.
“This year, am happy to announce that 90,000 farmers were able to farm cotton under the Anchor Borrowers Program of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and unfortunately we had to bring in seed from outside the country, but with what we are seeing here today and the work we know that IAR will also do along with the Seed Council, we believe that we will now have in-country seed production that will give us the kind of quality that we seeking and will put us in the cotton production map of the world,” he added.