The North-East Commodity Association (NECAS) says it is targetting 20 hectares of cotton production and has mobilised nearly 10, 000 farmers in Gombe State to boost the production of the commodity in the state.
Alhaji Yahaya Umar, the Gombe State Head of Agriculture, NECAS who made this known in Gombe on Monday, stressed that the cultivation of cotton in the North-east sub-region needed a boost to meet local and export demands.
Umar stated that the focus of the association is to enhance to a large scale, the production of cotton in the sub-region, specifically in Gombe, adding that the target for the state is 20, 000 hectares.
He said that in 2018, NECAS had supported cotton farmers to participate in Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers Programme, adding that in 2019, the farmers would also be given necessary assistance to boost their production.
According to him, NECAS had introduced ‘exportable commodity’ project to encourage cotton farming by ensuring that improved seedlings and extension services were provided from the period of cultivation to harvesting.
“ In the North-east, we have six ginneries among which only two are functional. One of those two, needs more than a 100 tonnes per day and that has become a challenge even to the functionality of the ginneries.
“If you need the ginneries to be functioning, we need to boost cotton production to meet both local and export demands. This is why NECAS is encouraging farmers in that regard to secure loans.
“If the over 10, 000 mobilised farmers are assisted with loans to produce cotton to supply our ginneries, the whole value chain will be developed and there will be more jobs for our youths.
“We have set a target of 45, 000 hectares of cotton for the North-east but 20, 000 hectares for Gombe, because it remains the largest producer of cotton in the sub-region,’’ he said.
On the availability of market for the produce, Umar said: “ we already have partners that will buy their produce no matter how huge it is. The fear of who will buy is no longer there.
“We will ensure that those who have been mobilised are adequately assisted from cultivation to harvesting and ultimately marketing. Cotton farmers will have a reason to smile to the bank this year.”
While commending the federal government for its support, Umar appealed to farmers not to divert loans meant for cotton farming into other purposes, so as to complement government efforts to boost the agricultural sector.