Cotton output to hit decade high

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, during the recent recommissioning of Rivatex factory. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Cotton production this year is expected to triple compared to last year, marking one of the highest yields to have been recorded in the last decade.

Fibre Crops Directorate forecasts production will increase from 10,672 tonnes realised last year to 30,000 tonnes.

Increased production has been attributed to better investment and incentives to farmers as the government moves in to spur manufacturing under the Big Four agenda where President Uhuru Kenyatta is targeting manufacturing, affordable housing, universal healthcare and agriculture.

“We will be witnessing tremendous harvest of cotton this year in a decade because of the investment that we have put on farmers to spur production in line with the government’s big four agenda,” said Naomi Kamau, head of directorate fibre crops.

However, she noted that production will be slightly less than what had been projected because of harsh weather conditions witnessed during the current crop season.

“We had anticipated to get 39,000 bales of lint this year but we have revised this down to 30,000 because of the drought that affected the crop on the farm, mainly in eastern region,” she said.

She said that incentives to farmers include offering planting material and good prices for produce.

For instance, the directorate has increased the buying price per kilo of the crop from Sh46 for a kilo to Sh52.

The directorate has also created a ready market for farmers by having them sign contracts with the ginneries, which ensures crop is purchased immediately after harvesting.

Recently, Mr Kenyatta recommissioned Rivatex Company to promote production of locally made products using cotton that has been produced by the local farmers.

Cotton production has been falling in the country since 1980s with Kenya relying on imports to bridge the deficit.

According to Ms Kamau, Kenya requires a total of 120,000 bales of lint per year meaning that the country imports over half of the required quantities to keep the factories running.

There are about four active ginneries in the country at the moment: in Meru, Baringo, Makueni and Kitui.

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