State wants more cotton-growing for revived ginneries

Government distributing seeds to farmers in Nyanza and Western to scale up production

In Summary

• Six counties targeted in drive for industrialisation and job creation. 

• Aim is to revive cotton and textile sectors so importation unnecessary.  

State Department for Industry PS Dr Juma Mukwana (center) and State Department for Cooperatives PS Patrick Kilemi presenting BT cotton seeds to farmers at Ahero Multipurpose Hall in Kisumu county.
GMO COTTON: State Department for Industry PS Dr Juma Mukwana (center) and State Department for Cooperatives PS Patrick Kilemi presenting BT cotton seeds to farmers at Ahero Multipurpose Hall in Kisumu county.
Image: KNA

The government is distributing 15.8 tonnes of genetically modified BT cotton seeds in Nyanza and Western regions to increase production.


Industry Principal Secretary Dr Juma Mukwana said through a Public Private Partnership, the Sh51 million initiative aims to attract more cotton farmers to revive  the sector.

The programme covers Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Bungoma and Busia counties.

“The farmers will also receive free chemicals and training to ensure the crop is effectively managed for maximum yields,” he said.

“This aims to scale up cotton production  to provide enough raw materials for both state and private cotton industries, which have been revived,” he said.

BT cotton is high-yield, pest-resistant and drought-tolerant.

Speaking during the launch of the distribution at Ahero in Kisumu county, Mukwana said the government has revived Rivatex and several ginneries in cotton-growing areas.

Due to low production, however, the facilities are operating below capacity.

“The government is setting up industrial parks in the 47 counties where cotton and textiles will be flagships. To meet the demand, the industries now are forced to source for cotton outside the country,” he said.

The industrial parks will be actively engaged in ginning, clothes making and textile production to create employment opportunities for the youth,  the PS said.

He urged youth and women to take advantage of the revival for economic benefits. 

Cooperatives PS Patrick Kilemi said the seeds being distributed through Savings and Credit Cooperatives (Saccos) will greatly strengthen the cotton value chain.

This will have a ripple effect on the dairy sub-sector with the cotton seed cake made readily available for production of dairy meal.

“A vibrant cotton sector will reduce the cost of production per litre of milk and help us address the shortage of the commodity,"  he said.

The government, he said, was determined to establish a strong cooperative movement not only for the cotton sub-sector but also for all  sectors of the economy.

“This is being done through a review of the Cooperatives Act to strengthen governance and safeguard members' funds,” he added.

Agriculture and Food Authority acting director general Beatrice Nyamwanu said rejuvenating the sector would scale up production that currently is 3,000 metric tonnes per year.

She said AFA was committed to ensuring farmers countrywide have access to the right seeds to boost yields and income. “If we don’t have the right seeds, the industry will continue to suffer from lack of raw materials,” she said.

Nyamwanu said BT cotton, which takes six months to mature, can yield as much as 1,500kg per acre, offering the best solution to the gap in production.

“So far, 20,000 farmers have been registered through the various Saccos, and positive outcomes through the free seeds programme are likely to attract more farmers to the sub-sector,” she said.

Nyamwanu said that AFA has partnered with county governments in cotton-growing areas to scale-up extension services to increase yields.

“For this variety to thrive, there are agronomic factors that must be employed. AFA has packaged this information and will work together with county governments to build farmers' capacity,” she said.

She said the outcome of the programme will be reviewed after a year to assess the impact and fill in gaps.

“We will monitor how this seed performs in the various counties and recommend where to keep it or use our hybrid seeds,” she said.

The government approved commercial planting of BT cotton in 2019 following a successful five-year trial that showed positive results.

(Edited by V. Graham)

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