STATE IN BOLD MOVE TO REVIVE TEXTILE SECTOR IN THE COUNTRY
The Government has commenced a bold move aimed at reviving one time vibrant textile industry which in the 80’s and 90’s was dominated by reknown textile factories such as Kicomi, Raymonds, Kenknit and Thika Cotton Mills by addressing the collapsed cotton value chain.
To this end, the State Department for Industrialization in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Rift Valley Textile mills (Rivatex) recently begun an ambitious exercise to provide 15.8 tonnes of modified Biotechnology cotton seed worth Ksh.51 million to cotton growing Counties in Nyanza and western regions.
The Principal Secretary (PS) for industry Dr. Juma Mukhwana, led his colleagues Kello Harsama, State Department for Crops and Patrick Kilemi, State Department for Co-operatives on different tours distributing cotton seeds in Kisumu, Busia, Bungoma and Siaya counties.
The tour had the backing of Governors Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o of Kisumu, Paul Otuoma of Busia, Kenneth Lusaka of Bungoma and James Orengo of Siaya.
The Principal Secretary (PS) for State Department for Industry (SDI), Dr. Juma Mukhwana said the initiative will profit farmers in Kisumu, Siaya, Homabay, Migori, Bungoma and Busia counties.
He stated that the farmers will also receive free chemicals and training to ensure the crop is effectively managed for maximum yields to be realized.
Dr. Mukhwana further remarked that the program targets to scale up cotton production in the country to provide enough raw materials for local textile industries and for export.
During the launch of the program in Ahero, Kisumu County, Dr. Mukhwana, explained that Kenya produces 28,000 bales of cotton annually against a requirement of 140,000 bales.
He announced that the government had pumped ksh.7 billion to modernize Rivatex and revived Luanda ginnery in Busia, but owing to the collapsed cotton value chain, the facilities were operating below capacity.
To meet the demand, the industries are forced to outsource 80% of the raw material from India, China and the rest of East Africa.
He affirmed that the SDI had embarked on the establishment of County Aggregated Industrial Parks (CAIPs) country wide including in the 24 counties where cotton and textiles will be a flagship industry.
“The parks will actively engage in ginning, clothes and textile to create employment opportunities for the youth.
“Further, I challenge the leaders in the Provincial Administration, Members of the County Assembly, youth and women to join the bandwagon and plant BT cotton to enjoy economic benefits”, he added.
Speaking at the same event, PS Patrick Kilemi stated that the seeds being distributed through the Savings and Credit Co-operatives (SACCO’s) will go a long way in strengthening the cotton value chain in the country. “This”, he added, “will have a ripple effect on the dairy sub-sector with the cotton seed cake made readily available for production of dairy meal”.
He noted that a vibrant cotton sector will reduce the cost of production per liter of milk and help address the shortage of the commodity in the country.
Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) Acting Director General Beatrice Nyamwanu reiterated that the renewed focus to rejuvenate the sector was set to scale up production which presently stands at 3000 metric tonnes.
She confirmed that so far, 20,000 farmers have been registered through the various SACCO’s. She added that this is proof that the free seeds initiative will automatically give incentive to more farmers in the sub-sector.
According to the latest Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) survey, high production costs and fierce competition from low-cost imports, coupled with low agricultural output particularly in food crops and the Covid -19 pandemic are cited as the most significant factors responsible for the decelerated development.