Nigeria can be global trade player with Bt cotton — Scientist

Dr Rose Gidado, Scientist at Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Nigeria chapter, says Biotech (Bt) cotton can accelerate Nigeria’s cotton export capacity.

According to her, it will make the country to become a global player in cotton trade.

Gidado, who is also Deputy Director, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), said this in an interview on Wednesday in Abuja.

She said that Bt cotton could cause a 24 per cent increase in cotton yield per acre through reduced pest damage and a 50 per cent gain in cotton profit among smallholders.

“With Bt cotton, textile industries can be revamped, jobs created, ginneries reactivated, with an increase in the growth of Gross Domestic Product(GDP), as well as empowerment of farmers,’’  Gidado said.

She further said farmers would be in business and record increase in productivity, reduced cost, high yields and improved protection from insects, pests and diseases.

Gidado said the variety was tolerant to heat, drought and other environmental hazards with early maturity and reduction in pesticides use by 37 per cent.

Similarly, she disclosed that the cotton variety was resistant to pink boll worm, a notorious insect that affects cotton productivity.

“Pink boll worm attacks the flowers, the cotton Bolls and the lint quality gets affected, causing farmers to spray chemical up to 10 to 12 times just to be able to get moderate yield.

“The Bt cotton developed to resist the Boll worm complex is high yielding, has good quality lint, good fibre strength and the maturity period is a little earlier than the conventional cotton,’’ she said.

According to her, the cotton variety is advantageous to the environment by helping to reduce agriculture’s negative impact on the land.

“It conserves soil and energy, reduces greenhouse gases thereby mitigating the effects of global warming.

“Bt cotton minimises the use of toxic herbicides and conserves soil fertility and natural resources,’’ she said.

She gave the assurance that textile industries would benefit from quality raw materials from Bt cotton through good quality lint, fibre, strength and colour as well as availability of raw materials.

She added that healthier oil, increased protein and good textile materials were other benefits of Bt cotton.

Gidado said that in 2019, farmers in more than 10 states were given the seeds free to plant and they all testified to the productivity of the cotton seed.

She noted that at the height of the lockdown, farmers were not going to farm, and it was not funny because this was planting season.

She said that to save the situation, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, Minister of Agriculture, alongside his counterpart from Internal Affairs, directed that the lockdown be eased for farmers.

“Planting at the right time with the right quantity and quality of seed is very critical to the food supply chain in the country,’’ she said. (NAN)