From Abba-Eku Onyeka, Abuja
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), Hajia Aisha Abubakar has disclosed the readiness of the Federal Government (FG) to host the International African Congress on Cotton (AICC) in March this year.
The Minister made this disclosure in a press release signed by Josephine Ademu on behalf of the Deputy Director Press, Oiujimi Oyetome.
The conference, according to her would be held in collaboration with her ministry: FMITI, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and the AICC with the theme: ‘’Mechanised Cotton Farming; Essential Requirement to Boost African Cotton Production.”
She noted that Nigeria was blessed with fertile land for high cotton production, but was dismayed by the high level of decline in the production of the cotton for the past three seasons in the country. While quoting Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) figures, she revealed that the production figure shows a decline from 180,000 metric tons to 160,000 metric tons and 95,000 metric tons in 2007/2008, 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 respectively. Calling for positive change in the system, the honorable minster said that she was hopeful that hosting the event will provide Nigeria with an opportunity to revive the ailing sub-sector, just as she informed that this year’s conference is a forum which will provide opportunity for learning best practices, new technology, identifying viable projects, promoting regional and global interaction that will open new markets for the cotton value chain globally. She added that the conference was intended to reduce trade barriers and also achieve sustainability.
Emphasizing the commitment of Federal Government to agriculture and its drive to diversify the economy away from oil, Hajia Aisha Abubakar therefore said that Nigeria stands to benefit immensely from the cotton sub sector through employment generation, poverty eradication, wealth creation, environmental sustainability and attraction of foreign exchange earnings, adding that the conference will encourage participation in fruitful networking that will follow the delivery of thought-provoking papers by seasoned experts who specialize in African cotton production.