New Telegraph

Chinese invasion, collapse of Nigerian textile industry pushing adire into extinction

Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, is the home of beautiful, elegant and colourful locally handmade adire/kampala fabrics and Kemta Adire International Market in Itoku is the production hub. Over the years, the adire industry has grown into a huge industry, employing thousands of men and women, especially the youths and generating huge revenue for the state government. The Kemta Adire International Market is the biggest market in the country which specialises in the production, marketing and promotion and sales of adire fabrics. The market, which is located a few metres away from the popular Olumo rock tourist site, houses more than 2,000 men and women who are directly involved in the production, marketing and sales of the fabrics. But, the industry has come under serious threat of extinction following the influx and importation of adulterated Chinese adire into the local markets. The trade and production techniques believed to be the heritage of the Egba people of Ogun State and passed on from one generation to the other is now at the mercy of the Chinese who have flooded the market with cheap adire fabrics.

Chinese adire on the rise

Investigation by New Telegraph revealed that Chinese adire “crept” into the indigenous fabrics trade about three years ago, but it gained popularity last year because it is “cheap and colourful.” Traders allege that Chinese nationals have now flooded the market with their mass produced adire using polyester materials. Findings by our correspondent revealed that while the locally produced adire costs between N7,000 and N25,000 for four yards, depending on the quality of the materials used, the ‘Chinese adire’ is sold for as low as N3,000 to N5,000. Further findings revealed that even the local traders have the ‘Chinese adire’ in stocks because it is cheaper and highly in demand. “The original Adire is no longer affordable, the price is too high. Why will I buy fabrics for N15, 000 when I can easily get the same design but lesser quality for as low as N4, 000,” Adenike Balogun, a fashion designer said. “I don’t think the sale of Chinese adire can be banned. It is almost impossible for now because the patronage for it is increasing by the day and nobody can trace its source in the market. “If you go to the Itoku Market, you will find out that at least 40 percent of the fabrics in the stocks are Chinese adire. If the traders themselves can be selling it, why are they now complaining?” Bolanle Akinbode, a young trader who deals in sale of the fabric said. But, the head of Kemta Adire Market, Mrs. Modinat Oyetola, attributed the high cost of locally made adire to the general collapse of the Nigerian textile industry. Oyetola said the collapse has forced producers of adire into importation of textiles, a major material needed in the production of adire. Oyetola lamented that the Chinese now copy their local designs and take them abroad to reproduce and then bring them back as finished products for the women to sell at cheaper price. This she said has stifled the growth of the local adire fabrics.

Collapse

“The biggest challenge is the collapse of the Nigerian textile industry which has made it very difficult for us to get quality cotton and materials for adire production. “In the 80s and early 90s, there were so many textile industries like Gaskia Textile in Kano State, Arewa Textile in Kaduna where we bought textile materials for our adire production there for cheap price, but suddenly all the companies folded up and none of them is in production again. “Unfortunately now, all the textile materials and even the dye and wax candle that we use in the production of adire today are all being imported from outside the country. And the most unfortunate thing is that the prices of these materials keep growing every day. “This is forcing many of us out of the business. The floating exchange rate is also not helping matters at all. The high cost of the dollar and other foreign currencies has made the prices of textile materials and the dye being imported into the country exorbitant and this is killing the adire industry. “A lot of us here are losing our jobs because the Chinese have almost taken over with their adulterated designs,” Oyetola said. However, many traders and stakeholders are confused as to where the controversial products are being produced. Some of the local traders said they were hitherto imported, but now being produced in Nigeria.

Governor’s worry

Governor Dapo Abiodun has also admitted the Chinese’s incursion into the local adire fabrics business, accusing them of copying traders’ designs and selling at cheaper rates thereby pushing the indigenous trade to the brink. “When I assumed office, this industry was dying…because the Chinese were coming to Ogun State to copy the designs, take it to China, make the adire and ankara and sell it cheaper than those produced by our people, regardless of how beautiful it is. “No matter what it is, it remains our small business enterprise that employs a lot of our people and it has been so for many generations,” Abiodun said recently when he received his Osun State counterpart, Ademola Adeleke, in Abeokuta.

Govt’s intervention

Meanwhile, the state government has vowed to enact a law that will keep the activities of the ‘Chinese adire’ manufacturers under check. The state government expressed its determination to maintain the quality of the original local adire fabric and protect it from undue competition and proliferation by imitators. The Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Sesan Fagbayi, who disclosed this, warned that anyone found imitating adire would be made to pay royalty fees. “The Ministry is looking into protecting the intellectual property of adire, as well as ready to establish a law that will ensure that imitators of the fabric pay stipulated fees into the coffers of the state government,” he said. The commissioner stressed the urgent need for an enforcement law that would prohibit the sales of the counterfeit adire, popularly called ‘Chinese adire’ and also refrain sellers and buyers from referring to it as ‘adire’. “It is because it is still being called adire, that is why people are still patronising it, even if the Chinese have to produce the pattern and refer to it as that, it is important to enforce the payment of the royalty and trademark royalty for the designers,” he said.

Ogun Assembly Intervenes

The Ogun State House of Assembly has also passed a resolution requesting that the state government should put machinery in motion to stem the subtle take-over of adire Kampala local industry by foreigners. The passage of the resolution followed a motion moved by the Majority Leader, Yusuf Sheriff, seconded by the Minority Leader, Lukman Adeleye, and supported by other lawmakers at a plenary presided over by Speaker, Olakunle Oluomo during a recent plenary at the Assembly. Opening debate on the motion, the sponsor, Hon. Babatunde Tella, decried the influx of imported/foreign adire into the local market which had been eroding the rich cultural heritage of the people of the state. He therefore called on the Ministries of Trade and Investment, Culture and Tourism as well as Women Affairs to investigate the matter, while pleading with the state government to partner the Federal Government in assisting the local adire fabric makers to have smooth export of their product to protect the nation’s growing economy. Corroborating Tella’s submission, his colleague-lawmakers all rose in unison to support the motion and commended the State Governor and some notable monarchs for always promoting by adorning the indigenous adire at all times. The lawmakers unanimously solicited the support of the National Assembly to consider classifying the imported adire as contraband goods with a view to protecting the local economy of the state.

Why we can’t ban Chinese Adire – FG

Sadly the state government will not be able to get the backing of federal authorities after the Federal government has said it is impossible to ban the importation of Chinese adire into the country. The government insisted that only lack of patronage of Chinese adire would end the influx of the fake fabrics. A representative of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) stated this during the Ewa Ede Cultural Festival and Adire Textile Training and Exhibition, held in Abeokuta recently. Mrs. Francisca Odega, the Ogun State Coordinator of NEPC, noted that the ‘China adire’ thrives in the market because of the local patronage. The State Coordinator submitted that the ban being pushed for by the traders may not happen because Nigeria also exports its goods and products abroad due to the bilateral trade agreement. She warned that accept Nigerians patronise local fabrics and the traders desist from selling the imported ones, the heritage of the indigenous fabrics would go into extinction. “If we don’t patronize our products, nobody is going to patronize it for us. Forget the narrative that China adire is cheap, that’s what people are buying, if we don’t patronize our own product, nobody would. China may be cheap and bring some gains, but the repercussions of it are that we will lose our heritage. In time, China will take over. “This time around, let’s reach a compromise that we won’t wear ‘China adire’ anymore, we won’t sell it anymore. It is not until the government imposes sanctions because there is a bilateral trade agreement and we also export our goods and want to sell them abroad. Once they import and realise that we fail to patronise the product, no one will tell them to stop the importation. “Let’s work together and save ourselves from future hunger,” she said.

Read Previous

More encomiums for Olagoke’s MBE honour

Read Next

NDLEA’s drug war and importance of intelligence gathering