FOR PROFITABILITY

Lamu cotton farmers want state to subsidise farm input

Cotton growing in the county accounts for at least 35 per cent of the country’s production.

In Summary

• They said they have been demotivated by the high cost of farm input, including fertiliser and pesticides.

They said even after incurring huge costs in buying input, they sell their produce at extremely poor prices.

Cotton farming in Lamu.
Cotton farming in Lamu.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES
A cotton farmer is all smiles after receiving hybrid seeds from the county government in July thid yer.
A cotton farmer is all smiles after receiving hybrid seeds from the county government in July thid yer.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES

Cotton farmers in Lamu county have asked the government to subsidise farm input to enable them to continue cultivating the crop.

They said they have been demotivated by the high cost of farm input, including fertiliser and pesticides. They said even after incurring huge costs in buying input, they sell their produce at extremely poor prices.

This comes in the wake of efforts by the county government to revive the sector through the issuance of free hybrid seeds to farmers.

The new variety yields about 800kg of produce per acre compared to the traditional seeds that only yield about 250 kilos an acre.

Last year, farmers made about Sh48,000 from an acre but complained that much of the money was taken up by overhead costs and expensive farm input.

Mpeketoni farmer Moses Mwiti called for an increased focus on cotton farming to ensure sustainability.

“Kenya does not have a cotton growers association that could help address issues affecting us. We need some sort of machinery in place to enable the sector to grow,” he said.

Cotton farming in Lamu accounts for at least 35 per cent of the country’s production. In 2020, the county produced 800 tonnes. Farmers say they would have recorded better harvests with a lower cost of input.

At the peak of its growth in the 1980s and 1990s, cotton farming in Mpeketoni accounted for at least 1.4 tonnes.

Lamu Agriculture executive Abdulhakim Aboud, who is also the deputy governor, said with improved cotton farming, the crop could easily account for 20 per cent of the county’s economy and that it's possible to achieve revenues of over Sh200 million.

“Last year, farmers made Sh48 million after 3,000 of them were supplied with free hybrid seeds,” he said.

Apart from reduced subsidies, farmers are also seeking better market prices and pushing for the establishment of a ginnery for better profits.

Farmer Simon Mwaniki said with improved cotton production, Kenya will not need to import the same from Uganda and Tanzania.

Fanuel Lubanga, the marketing deputy director of the Agriculture and Food Authority, said the national government has set aside Sh140 million in the national budget aimed at improving pesticides, hybrid seed research and cotton farming development.

“The government would do everything possible to assist the farmers to keep them in the production of cotton,” he said.

Edited by A.N

Cotton farmers receive hybrid seeds from the county government in July this year.
Cotton farmers receive hybrid seeds from the county government in July this year.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES