Gombe State Government has said that it has taken steps to sustain cotton production as well as encourage cotton farmers in the state.
Mr Umar Malala, Director of Produce and Pest Control Services, Gombe State Ministry of Agriculture, disclosed this during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Gombe on Friday.
Malala stated that the low prices of cotton was discouraging farmers in the state as many of them had indicated interest to quit cultivation of the crop, hence the state government’s intervention.
According to him, one major challenge that brings down the prices of cotton is pest infestation which prevents the crop from yielding the needed produce to meet best global standards.
“In the ministry, we are to ensure that crops produced this year are insects-free by controlling the field pests. When this is done, there is hope that the yields will be of high quality.
“One challenge that has continued to bring down prices of crops is when crops are infested. That’s why this year we have embarked on assisting farmers to ensure that yields are of high quality.
“To protect farmers’ income, you have to ensure that the crops are well protected to have good and quality yields that will meet best global standards and makes it easy to market or export.
“With regards to cotton, farmers run away from its cultivation because of the low prices being offered.
“The ministry is working to ensure that the market for cotton is improved through effective grading and inspection of cotton,” he said.
He said that if the product was not inspected and graded, the prices would not meet up with international standards.
“We have been inspecting cotton farms to protect them from pest. We are also going to provide special markets where these cottons will be brought, properly inspected and graded for marketing,’’ he said.
Malala advised cotton farmers to cultivate the habit of reporting to the ministry any incident of insect infestation on their crops, adding that the ministry was ready to help out.
He also charged them to bring their cotton to government gazette market and not allow off-takers to come to their houses to buy them, because they might end up selling higher grades at lower prices.