The shortage of raw materials to run Rivatex has handed producers in the East African Community (EAC) a major windfall, with the Eldoret-based textile manufacturer now relying on the region to provide the bulk of its lint.
The firm said it is still operating below capacity despite the billions sunk into its revivals for the last two decades.
Inadequate raw materials, and high labour and electricity costs are some of the factors slowing down the revival of the once vibrant textile firm that had more than 10,000 employees.
Corporate services manager Patrick Nyaga said Rivatex is receiving 3,000 bales against a capacity of 20,000 monthly.
“Just like other textile firms in the country, the company is faced with a serious shortage of cotton and has to import the raw material from East Africa Community member states,” disclosed Mr Nyaga during a tour of the firm by government spokesperson Cornel Oguna.
Kenya produces an average of 5,300 tonnes of lint against a demand of about 38,000 tonnes monthly with the deficit being imported from neighbouring countries.
Mr Nyaga says the textile firm would increase cotton consumption from 10,000 bales a day against a projected capacity of 100,000, translating to a daily production rate of 40,000 metres, up from 5,000. It requires more than 500,000 acres of cotton to realise a steady supply of raw materials to support smooth operations.
“We do not have sufficient Bt cotton seeds in the market, which means we are recycling the conventional seeds translating to low productivity,” said Mr Nyaga, adding that the company has entered into a partnership with counties in the region to boost the supply of the raw materials.
“Although we have invested in Bt cotton, the production is insufficient to support our operations.”
He disclosed that acreage under Bt production increased from 33,193 acres to 149,000 acres but the production remained at 10,000 bales annually, which is too low to sustain the operations of textile firms in the country.
“The production is like a drop in the sea considering that demand outstrips supply to many textile firms in the country,” added Mr Nyaga.
The county produces an average of 5,300 tons of cotton against a demand of about 38,000 tonnes, with the deficit worth about Sh17 billion imported from neighbouring countries.
The Treasury recently injected Sh650 million into the upgrade of the New Rivatex.
“The government is committed to fast-trucking the modernisation of Rivatex, expand job creation and ready market for cotton,” Mr Oguna.