Reviving Nigeria’s Ailing Textiles Industry For Economic Growth
Nigeria’s quest for sustainable economic development and diversification would not take place if concerted attention was not paid to catalyse and revitalise a critical labour intensive and revenue yielding industry like CTG sub-sector of the economy.
The problem of grappling with vagaries of economic diversification facing Nigeria continues to remain a daunting albatross, to which successive governments have made attempts to tackle albeit with little success. Hence, it is widely believed that should Nigeria succeed in concentrating attention on its non-oil sector development programme, a great deal of these obstacles on the path of economic development and transformation would have been removed.
Cotton is an enormously important commodity throughout the world. In Nigeria, it is grown in 24 states including the FCT with three distinct agronomics production zones covering the northern and southern part of the country with diffusion into central states.
The estimated current national production is put at 100,000 metric tons of lint. The annual business revenue stimulated by cotton in Nigeria is in excess of N100 billion. According to a draft report by Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), cotton production in Nigeria has served the country successfully in the past, with the textile-cotton-garment (CTG) once being the second largest employer of labour aside from the public sector and a net contributor to gross domestic product (GDP).
History of Nigeria Textile Industry
From the concept document on the proposal for the collaboration on the revival of the CTG sector by the FMARD and Nigeria-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry showed that the Nigerian textile industry, which used to be a huge contributor to foreign exchange earnings for the country is greatly underperforming.
The reality now is that Nigeria’s potentials in the area of seed cotton and cotton fibre production are inadequately exploited. It is produced largely by small-holder farmers who hardly used mechanised operations for cultivation and harvesting of crops.
There is no adequate added-value input into the cotton sub-sector via full home use of the Nigerian cotton.
Out of the cotton lint produced in Nigeria, local consumption is less than 30,000 metric tons per annum and these are exported to other countries like the United Kingdom (UK), Thailand, Spain, Malaysia, Japan, among others.
The textile industry used to be the second-largest employer of labour after government; a huge contributor to foreign exchange earnings for the country. In the 1980s, it was estimated that the textile industry provided direct employment to about half a million with well over 250 operational factories and small scale production units across the country. Another group of 1.75 million Nigerians are indirectly employed by the industry. This group includes the producers of the raw materials for the textile factories, the cotton growers/farmers including millions of middlemen, marketers of the finished products, tailors and garment makers, wholesalers and retailers and also traditional producers of local fabric.
The country once had one of the finest, well developed and booming textile industries that rated third largest in Africa after Egypt and South Africa with over 250 vibrant factories operating above 50 per cent capacity utilisation. The first modern textile industry in Nigeria, the Kaduna Textile Mill, started production in 1956.