Earnings from textile and apparel accessories grew by Sh8 billion in the nine months to September last year, boosted by higher sales to the United States (US) and the Netherlands.
Data from the Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (Keproba) shows that revenue for textile firms rose to Sh33.7 billion in the review period compared to Sh25.7 billion a year earlier. This represented a 31.1 percentage growth.
Keproba’s chief executive officer Wilfred Marube said in the report that the Netherlands and US were Kenya’s largest export markets in the period.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) –the US free trade scheme- allows Kenya to export selected goods at preferential terms to the US, exempting them from paying tax.
The initiative, which was expected to end in 2015 after an initial deadline of September 2012, was extended by US lawmakers for 10 years until 2025.
For example, it allows the country to export more than 6,000 product lines, which has been dominated by the export of textile and apparel.
Locally, the revival of Rivatex has also boosted the sector since it has created a demand for locally produced cotton and created thousands of jobs.
Likewise, the introduction of Bacillus Thuringiensis cotton, Kenya’s first genetically modified, insect-resistant cotton seeds, has boosted cotton farming as well as quality.
Currently, Kenya produces an average of 25,000 bales of cotton against a demand of 200,000 bales annually.
“The introduction of the genetically modified cotton variety is projected to bridge the production gap in the coming years by increasing output,” Mr Marube says.
Mr Marube added that Keproba has supported the sector by partnering with its key stakeholders including business membership organizations (BMOs) like Kenya Fashion Council to maintain high production standards and create value-added products that meet the global export market standards.
A new strategy was recently developed to increase uptake of locally designed and manufactured apparel, textiles, leather and accessories including through the “Buy Kenya Build Kenya” campaign.