Thursday, February 02, 2006

Removal of Cotton Subsidy is not Enough

Yebo Gogo blog reports the removal of government subsidy for cotton farmers in the United States, calling it a “fair share for Africa". He states "West Africa should be affected the most -- the rocky, sandy soil of the Sahel is best suited for cotton...”

I agree this is good news for Africa and hopefully the development would bring better tidings to the cotton farmers in Nigeria, however, the removal of cotton subsidy by US government will not necessarily translate to more money for cotton farmers in Nigeria.

If cotton farmers continue to use antiquated farming methods, produce low quality cotton, and lack government assistance, the removal of these subsidy will be meaningless. At present, Nigerian cotton is of a poorer grade compared to the neighboring francophone states mainly because of high “thrash content”. To manufacture finer products, Nigerian texile industries commonly import better quality cotton from these countries and blend with home-grown stocks.
In general, production of cotton in West African is far below other regions. "During the past decade, average yields in West Africa have remained flat, while the average across all other countries has increased by 150 pounds per acre,” states the West Farm Press

“...Potential for growth is not determined by the U.S. cotton program, but, instead, will depend on whether or not they can address a number of internal issues related to their production, ginning and distribution systems.”
More recent data on lint production in Nigeria is unavailable, however, the projection for 2003/2004 was 100,000 metric tons. Clearly, there is a lot of room for growth; “100 kilo metric ton is nothing” given the perfect climate and the huge expanse of arable land appropriate for cotton cultivation in Nigeria and West Africa.