• Production in the country declined from a peak of 70,000 bales in 1986 to 20,000 bales in 1990.
• Industry has the potential to employ 1.5 million people under the cotton textile and clothing value chain.
Cotton farmers will get hybrid cotton seeds for planting during the long rains season.
Agriculture CAS Ann Nyaga said the government has procured 16 tonnes of non-genetically modified hybrid cotton seeds to be distributed in Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Busia, Bungoma, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River and Lamu counties.
Nyaga spoke on Wednesday while flagging off the imported seeds for Western, Nyanza, Coast and Rift Valley regions at Kilimo House.
She said that the certified hybrid seeds can produce over 2,000kg seed cotton per hectare against the current average yield of 572 kg per hectare.
“It is anticipated that with this and other targeted interventions in the pipeline, cotton production in the country will experience a rebound and earnings to cotton farmers will significantly improve,” she said.
Nyaga said besides, the government will establish 720 demonstration sites of Bt cotton in the same counties where the non-Bt hybrid seed will be grown.
“These demonstration sites will be used for teaching farmers and extension service providers from all over the country so that full commercialisation is done during the short October-November rains.
During the launch of Bt Cotton programme on March 9 at Alube University College in Busia, the government had promised to provide farmers with certified hybrid seed for planting during the March-May long rains.
Cotton can potentially be grown in 24 counties in arid and semi-arid areas.
Nyaga said production in the country, however, declined from a peak of 70,000 bales in 1986 to 20,000 bales in 1990.
According to the Fibre Crops Directorate, the country has the potential to grow up to 260,000 bales. But the sub-sector is producing 10,000 bales of lint annually against the domestic market demand of 110,000 bales.
The potential land is 400,000ha, but presently, only under 30,000ha is being utilised.
There are currently about 30,000 cotton farmers while the industry can support over 200,000 farmers.
Further, the industry has the potential to employ 1.5 million people under the cotton textile and clothing value chain.
Income earnings to growers will contribute to poverty reduction, especially in arid and semi-arid lands.
The CAS said it is projected that cotton production will grow from a current low of 29,000 bales per year to about 200,000 bales by 2022.
“In the next three years, strengthen policies, research and development of cotton production and value-addition in collaborations with local and international seed companies, local research institutions, the textile and apparel sector as well as other development partners,” Nyaga said.
Edited by R.Wamochie