Modernisation of Rift Valley Textiles is at 82 per cent, according to the projects financiers EXIM bank of India
In an interview with the Star, the bank’s assistant manager Amita Dang said they hope to commission the modern apparel plant in April.
He said complete modernisation of the factory is expected to increase cotton processing from the current 10 bales a day to 100 bales per day and an average of 40,000 bales annually.
Rivatex managing director, Thomas Kipkurgat said the factory’s yarn production per day is expected to rise to 40,000 meters from the current 10,000 meters.
The product is expected to be sold locally and to the US through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
“We are sensitising farmers in 22 counties to grow cotton together with other institutions like FIBRE directorate, KALRO, KEPHIS, and the ministry,” Kipkurgat said on sourcing for cotton.
The bank which provides financial assistance for Indian Exports and Imports and pre-shipment credit put in at least Sh3 billion in the factory’s modernisation.
The capital is a loan signed in 2016 by Kenya’s Ministry of Industry, Trades, and Cooperatives.
It will be paid at a 1.5 per cent interest for a period of 25 years inclusive of a five-year grace period.
Currently, the Indian government through Lakshmi Machine Works limited is installing new textile processing machines at the miller. It is also renovating the buildings.
The bank valued the total renovation cost at Sh5billion, where Sh3 billion is funded by the Indian government and the balance by Kenya.
During Mashujaa day celebrations, President Uhuru Kenyatta approved commercialisation of genetically modified cotton.
The president directed the ministries of health, agriculture, trade, industry, and cooperatives to work together and come up with a quick mechanism to revitalise the cotton sub-sector.
This includes possibility of farming high-yield, pest-resistant GM cotton. Growing GM cotton will provide fresh impetus to the Big Four agenda, which includes a revival of the textile and apparel industry.
It is expected to increase the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the country’s GDP from the current 9.2 per cent to 15 per cent by 2022.
According to the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Kenya has been losing at least 4,210 cotton farmers every year for the last 38 years due to low returns and importation of cheaper ready fabric from China and India.
This translates to 160,000 farmers or 80 per cent of the estimated 200,000 farmers who practiced cotton farming in the mid-1980s when the industry was at its peak.
The exodus has seen Kenya become a net importer of cotton as the current home production cannot satisfy the demand.
The revival of Rivatex is expected to turn tables and see Kenya become a net exporter of cotton.