The Ogun State Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an indigenous natural fibre company, Arewacotton Limited, on the production, processing and marketing of cotton in the state.
The deal was completed between the two parties on Wednesday in Abeokuta, the state capital.
The state Governor, Mr Ibikunle Amosun and the Chairman of Arewacotton, Professor Michael Olayiwole signed the MoU on behalf of the government and the company respectively at an event held at the Governor’s Office, Oke-Mosan.
Mr Amosun, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Taiwo Adeoluwa, restated the commitment of the state towards developing the agriculture sector to enhance employment generation.
He said the partnership is expected to address increased cotton and demands from local textile industries as well as exports, which would lead to the establishment of an ultra-modern ginnery in the state.
To him, the collaboration would boost productivity and foreign exchange for the local farmers.
He said, “There are so many benefits. Agriculture, with its value chain, is the third cardinal programme of this administration.
“We have always not been in doubt that the only way to put more money in the pockets of our people and to tackle the restive and large youth unemployment is to develop agriculture. It would help us to keep our communities calm and ultimately it will improve our security initiatives.”
Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mrs Ronke Sokefun, disclosed that the agreement is targeted at the cultivation of 10,000 hectares of cotton farmland to be provided by the state government.
“But in the first instance, they are going to start by clearing a thousand hectare. At the maximum capacity, we’ll be producing 25,000 metric tonnes at 2.5 metric tonnes per hectare.
“In fact, between 2017 and 2018, the processing mill which is called the gingery would already come on stream. Our role is limited to land provision and mobilisation of the farmers.”
While commending the state government, the Arewacotton boss declared that the collaboration would empower 5,000 indigenes who are cotton farmers and their dependants.
Mr Olayiwole added that the partnership with the state would create multiple investment opportunities estimated at billions of naira.
He stated “I am delighted to announce that Ogun State is the first state in the South West region to collaborate with us in the spirit of the MoU that we signed with the Federal Government, although we have reached conclusive stages of signing MoUs with some other state governments.
“Creation and sustaining an enabling environment devoid of bureaucracy is critical to the success of this project, which is time bound. This is highly critical to the success of our collective goals and efforts.”
The event was attended by officials of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bank of Industry and National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), among others stakeholders.