High demand for sisal in the world market has slowed down adoption of sisal bags as an alternative to plastic carriers.
Acting head of Directorate of Fibre Crops Naomi Kamau said more than 90 per cent of locally produced sisal is exported, with global prices having risen steeply in recent years.
She says a tonne of sisal in the international market is currently trading at Sh180,000 compared with Sh100,000 fetched locally.
“Sisal producers have been lured by high international price making them sell nearly all their products in the world market, and this has affected adoption of sisal bags locally because of higher prices resulting from the shortage,” said Ms Kamau.
Environment ministry banned the use of plastic bags last year to minimise pollution.
Ms Kamau said the few fibre products available locally are expensive due to the scarcity of sisal.
The directorate is now working with small-scale farmers and the counties to increase the production of the crop from the current 25,000 tonnes annually to 30,000 tonnes.
“We are partnering with the county governments and the smallholder farmers to increase production and also empower them on value addition for fibre in order to make these products affordable to Kenyans,” she said.
The agency has also distributed free seedlings to farmers.
About 37,500 hectares in the Rift Valley, eastern and coastal regions, have been put under the crop.
Sisal has mainly been a plantation crop with the 10 estates accounting for up to 80 per cent of production.
Major plantation estates include Vipingo plantations, Teita estate, Kilifi Plantations Ltd, Voi Sisal Estate and Agro Processors International (K) Ltd.