Nigeria has developed two varieties of transgenic cotton. These are aimed at addressing the issues of low yields, high production costs and insect attacks on cotton farms. Advanced technological tools like genetic engineering in crop production generate yields at economically viable scales for Nigerian farmers.
Nigeria commercialized its first genetically modified crop, Bt cotton, in 2018, aimed at revitalizing its comatose textile industry and boosting economic development. Pests reduce yields by up to 60 percent which has implications on farmers’ profits and have also been found to be detrimental to the environment.
BtCotton can produce 4.1 to 4.4 tons per hectare, compared to the local variety, which yields just 600 to 900 kilograms per hectare. Since Bt cotton can resist the devastating bollworm and tolerate sucking insects, it helps farmers reduce their use of pesticides, thus minimizing environmental impacts and lowering production costs. Transgenic hybrid cotton is cotton that has been genetically modified to include a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis, a soil bacterium used extensively for insect pest control in organic agriculture to provide pest resistance within the plant itself.
The textile industry in Nigeria was a major revenue-earner in the 70s. At its peak, between 1970 and1990, it comprised about 130 modern factories and supported numerous other ancillary firms.