Experts have projected that the global community was most likely to move from a health crisis to serious economic uncertainties, following the corona virus pandemic.
For example, both the United Nations and the World Bank say the situation in Nigeria, with dwindling fortunes from its mainstay, oil, requires alternative ways to salvage millions of people from imminent food insecurity.
Suggestions are that, there is an urgent need to diversify the economy with increase in cash crops production to avert a post pandemic food and economic crisis.
For over forty years, Nigeria was rated as one of the cotton production destinations of the World with bumper yield which was raw materials source for many textile industries that provided employment for millions of people.
During pre-independence and just before the oil boom days, cotton which was a major cash crop usually grown in the Savannah belts of the North and the South Western regions contributed significantly to Nigeria’s economic fortunes.
However, the situation has drastically challenged as the commodity is no longer being produced reasonably with many farmers quitting cotton production and textile industries are comatose thereby making the Country a dumping ground for substandard materials.
Among the reasons for the drastic drop in cotton production in Nigeria are contaminated seeds, low quality yield and loss of interest in the farming of the commodity.
But since the ravaging effects of the corona virus pandemic on World economies including in Nigeria, revamping cotton production as an alternative way of boosting the Nation’s economy has become imperative.
The Institute of Agricultural Research, Zaria in collaboration with other research institutes and foreign partners say they have now developed two hybrid varieties of cotton to enable farmers have quality seeds and address the challenges that have plagued the production of the cash crop for many years.
Free samples of the new varieties have already been distributed to farmers across fourteen states of the North and South West by the National varieties committee to experiment on them with a view to adopting the cash crop for mass production.
The National Biotechnology Agency ,NABDA and Open Forum on Biotechnology ,OFAB,who were the sponsor of this technology said the new varieties would address the challenge of insect and pest infestation, drought, seed viability and flood .
According to the minister of Science and Technology Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, the attempt by government resolve to look inward and make available to farmers improve technologies that would enhance their yield and income after the Covid 19 pandemic.
Two Farmers, the chairman Ginner Association of Nigeria Alhaji Salmad Abdullahi and Mallam Ibrahim Mazau said it was long over due to revamp cotton production and revive the textile industry.
Government in an effort to cushion the effect of Covid 19 on the economy, the FCT CBN Anchor Borrowers Scheme has given farmers cotton seeds for this year’s farming season and the Chairman of the Association and members said reviving cotton production would help the country cope with the shock from in prices of oil globally.
Meanwhile, a visit to some cotton farming communities in part of the North, some of them who were eagerly awaiting the technology said they were yet to know of such initiative by the Government.
In response, the Director General of NABDA,Dr. Alex Apka said enlightenment campaign would be intensified throughout the cotton producing states and called on the private sector to key into the technology through commercialization.
Farmers are asking Government to put measures in place amidst the pandemic to enhance accessibility of the seeds to the farming communities for large scale adoption and production.
This they said would create jobs for the teeming population and help Government meet its dream of lifting a hundred million people from poverty.