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Nigeria Seeks to Revive Cotton Industry, Fight Textiles Smuggling

The Nigerian government has begun distributing high-yielding cotton seeds and inputs to 100,000 farmers in Katsina State as part of larger push to revive the country’s cotton, textiles and garments sector, and drive self-sufficiency within the next three years.

The goal is to raise Nigeria’s cotton production from 80,000 metric tons in 2018 to 300,000 metric tons by 2020, according to Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The nation currently spends an average of $4 billion every year on imported textiles and readymade clothing, he told This Day, the national newspaper, earlier the month. “With a projected population of over 190 million Nigerians, the needs of the domestic market are huge and varied, with immense prospects for growth of the domestic textile industries,” he added.

Emefiele, who sits on the recently minted Textile Revival and Implementation Committee alongside ministry and state-government officials, said the central bank has identified “insufficient” cotton seeds as one of the key challenges facing farmers. He also told journalists the bank will be “gathering data about, and investigating the accounts” of individuals and businesses involved in smuggling textile materials into Nigeria. The names of offenders will be blacklisted and barred from conducting transactions with any bank in the country.

“We need to reclaim this industry from smugglers,” Emefiele told Daily Trust, noting that contraband textiles cost the country $2.2 billion annually. “We need the support of customs and other authorities.”

Though Nigeria’s textile industry once boasted 180 textile mills and no fewer than 450,000 employees in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, only 25 mills currently operate, according to This Day. The workforce, standing at fewer than 20,000 people, is also a shadow of its former self.

“Consequently, the current trend where all our textile materials are imported from abroad must stop,” Emefiele said. “It also means that we must all join hands to fight and destroy all attempts by unscrupulous persons and companies to continue to smuggle and dump textile and garments into Nigeria.”

Nigeria is the third-largest cotton-producing country in Africa, after Egypt and South Africa.