Government latest initiative is meant for not just ensuring cotton farmers produce quality cotton lint for better returns, but to upgrade State-owned Eldoret-based textile miller, Rivatex. The Government has launched a pilot programme which will see hybrid cotton seeds from Israel tried on 500 acres of land in Bura, Tana River County that promise to cut production costs and offer investors better margins.
According to Industry and Enterprise Development Principal Secretary Julius Korir, the Government plans to scale it up to other cotton-growing areas once it becomes successful. The first planting will be done in September.
Once the yields improve, the unit cost for the farmer will go down and whatever price they are going to get from the ginnery will encourage farmers to even produce more.
The programme is being undertaken under a tripartite arrangement, which will see Rivatex offer ready market to farmers. Other players in the arrangement include ginneries and the Ministry of Agriculture.
In addition to Sh1 billion funding from the Government factored in the last two financial years, the Government also secured Sh2.9 billion from the Indian government to help in the modernization of Rivatex. They signed an agreement with the Indian Government for an extension of about Sh2.9 billion funding to Rivatex so that it can now modernize.
The Trade and Industrialisation Principal Secretary, Korir said that they hope in the next two years, Rivatex will be a State-of-the-art factory. However, Rivatex requires about Sh4 billion to modernize and become a 21st century textile mill.
About 78,000 bales of cotton lint were produced annually before liberalisation. These have since gone down to a paltry 4,000 bales. The cotton industry slumped from its high of 1970s and 1980s when the sector used to receive subsidies from the Government.
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