- The facility will enable farmers gin their own cotton, instead of selling to middlemen for processing.
- The county will inject Sh20m million into the project each year for five years, but more is needed.
Lamu county government will build a Sh100 million gotton ginnery to revive the tattered cotton industry.
Groundbreaking is expected soon.
The ginnery t is being built on 15 acres in the Sinambio village area of Lamu West, It is expected to provide more than Sh1 billion annually to the Lamu economy.
For more than 22 years, more than 10,000 cotton farmers in Lamu have pleaded for a local ginnery to maximise profits.
The sector has dwindled to near-insignificance.
Lamu farmers will be able to have the cotton processed on their doorstep, instead of selling to middlemen for processing elsewhere.
The county government through the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project has already injected Sh20 million into the first phase. It will pay in Sh20 million a year for five years, but more is needed to hasten construction and revive the cotton sector.
The funds were given to the Lamu County Cotton Farmers Cooperative that will handle both construction and operations.
The county has formed a six-person committee - including three engineers, two agricultural officers and a cooperative officer - to facilitate design and planning.
Lamu’s highest cotton-producing areas are Baharini, Uziwa, Tewe, Hongwe and Wetemere, all in Mpeketoni division, and some parts of Hindi and Witu divisions. Some is grown on a medium scale in Faza in Lamu East.
Lamu is the highest cotton-producing area in Kenya.
Speaking at the county headquarters in Mokowe on Sunday, Lamu Governor Fahim Twaha said the ginnery will be an important part of the county's long-term cotton industrialisation agenda. It focuses on mechanisaiton, value addition and marketing.
“Lamu produces the best cotton in Kenya and our agenda is to create an enabling environment for farmers to scale up. We are focusing on ginning and garment production," Twaha said.
The project will have three gins able to process 20,000 tons of cotton annually from from Lamu farmers.
Lamu County Cotton Farmer Cooperative chairman Joseph Migwi called the project "a huge milestone" after a wait of 22 years.
“We’re very close to breaking ground. Engineers have completed a topography survey and architectural plans and a bill of quantities are almost complete," he said.
The ginnery is a component of the proposed Sh700 million Lamu Cotton Industry Park.
It will include garment and fibre making. The lint will be used to make bandages, sanitary toels and T-shirts, which are mostly imported.
The seed cake from the cotton will produce edible oils for the retail industry and animal feeds for the livestock industry.
Hongwe MCA James Komu said the county is providing more disease-resilient hybrid seeds and outlined strategies to protect farmers from middlemen.
(Edited by V. Graham)