By admin       2018-01-05

The government will start importing certified seeds from Israel to distribute to local small-scale cotton farmers as part of efforts towards reviving the industry.The high yield seeds are sourced from Hazera Genetics through Amiran Kenya Limited. The country is using KSA 81M and HART 89M commercial varieties available with a potential cotton yield of 2500 hectares under rain fed cottons and 3500- 400kg/ha under irrigations.Fibre Crops Directorate interim head Anthony Muriithi confirmed that only 10.04 per cent of total land, 384,500 hectares is under the cotton crop with only 40,000 farmers farming the crop. Cotton farmers are currently producing about 30,000 bales against 368,000 bales of lint.Production of cotton was at its peak in 1984 when 70, 000 bales of lint were recorded. In 1970s and 1980s when cotton farming was second in the country in terms of employment after public service, Bura used to produce 30 percent of the national production followed by Meru region.“We exported textiles worth over Sh22 billion mainly from EPZ to the USA under the African Growth Opportunity Act in 2016,” he said.farmers will benefit from bulking seed programmes by Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services and ginneries.During the last Jamhuri Day celebrations, President Uhuru Kenyatta assured cotton farmers of government support as part of government's big four plan to enhance manufacturing, food security, affordable housing and health care for all.The country has six privately owned operational factories with a capacity utilization of between 17 and 31 per cent with 80 per cent of raw materials used in the facilities sourced from the external markets. The active factories include Rivatex, Thika Cloth Mills, Fine Spinners, Sung Flag, African Cotton, and TSS Cotton Mills. Ginneries currently buy the crop from farmers at Sh46 per kilogramme. He said talks are underway between the national government, county governments and other value chain players to revive Mpeketoni, Malindi and Nyanza ginneries in the medium term.Due to low production, Kenya government imports substantial amounts of cotton lint and seed cake for local textile mills and feed manufacture mainly from Tanzania that produces 15 times and Uganda whose output five times of Kenya’s production respectively every year. The cotton industry collapsed between late 1980s and 90s after the liberalisation of the agriculture sector following introduction of Structural Adjustment Programmes by World Bank and International Monetary Fund, leading to the collapse of most operational ginneries.Currently, there are only five operational ginneries in the country in Makueni, Kitui, Meru, Mpeketoni and Salawa out of an establishment of 22 factories. He said countries including USA, Brazil, India, Turkey and China have expressed interest in investing in the industry.“The renewed interest is due to Kenya's enthusiasm to institute reforms, mobilizing farmers to embrace again the crop to enhance their economic set up,” he said, adding that Brazil has signed an MoU with Kenya and have already identified sites for seed production in Kisumu and Homabay counties.

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