Economy

Cotton production rises 16 percent

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Zachariah Kuyo, a farmer at Bura Irrigation Scheme in Tana River, tends to his cotton crop. PHOTO | POOL

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Summary

  • Kenya’s cotton production increased 16 percent last year on better quality seed, a new report showed.
  • Farmers planted cotton in 9,9987 hactares of land in 2020, down from 18,000 hectares the previous year.

Kenya’s cotton production increased 16 percent last year on better quality seed, a new report showed.

Data by the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) shows that cotton production increased from 3,015 tonnes in 2019 to 3,495 tonnes last year despite a 45 percent drop in the area under crop.

Farmers planted cotton in 9,9987 hactares of land in 2020, down from 18,000 hectares the previous year.

“Yield per acre increased due to use of superior seed provided to the farmers by the government during the period under review as farm input support,” AFA said.

The State last year distributed 24 tonnes of superior Hybrid Bt Cotton seeds for planting by farmers on about 10,000 acres.

“It was during the season that the ban on commercialisation of Bt Cotton was lifted by the National Environment Management Authority” AFA further said.

The average price of cotton seed per kilogramme tumbled to Sh38 last year from Sh52 in 2019, prompting renegotiations between growers and processors for a compromised deal of Sh48 a kg.

“The prices for Western and Coastal regions were re-negotiated by stakeholders from the earlier agreed upon Sh52 per kilogramme to Sh48 due to shocks in international prices (at approximately Sh38 per kilo) arising from an oversupply of cotton in the international market,” the AFA report states.

Sticking with a price of Sh52 per kilo of seed cotton would have resulted in the country’s cotton being highly uncompetitive.

“The harvesting of seed cotton in these areas (western and coastal) coincided with the oversupply in the international market. This glut had been occasioned by massive closure of Textile and garment factories in most of the leading cotton producing countries due to Covid– 19 pandemic.”

Siaya led with hectares under cultivation at 1,940 followed by Kitui 1,600, Homa Bay (1,383), Busia (1,237), and Makueni (1,000).

Areas with the least acreage being Isiolo (five), Muranga (eight), Kirinyaga (12), Kakamega (32), Migori (40), and Elgeyo Marakwet (41).

It also adds that the drop in production was due to heavy rains and floods in Nyanza and Western regions and the late delivery of superior seed.