Rivatex production hit by acute shortage of raw materials

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2017-03-14 12:00:00 – Africa

Eldoret-based Rift Valley Textile Mills (Rivatex) East Africa due to acute shortage of raw materials has impacted negatively on their operation capacity, said Prof Kipkurgat, adding that company has invested more than Sh300 million in upgrading its machines to produce materials that meet international standards.

The company was producing an average of 10,00 bales against an annual capacity of 70,000 bales. It is operating below capacity also due to underfunding from the government and absence of foreign donors to sustain its operations.

The textile firm was bought by Moi University for Sh205 million after it was placed under receivership more than 10 years ago. The National Assembly approved Sh500 million in the last financial year for Rivatex to obtain new machines and enhance productivity.

The company received a reprieve recently when the Indian government pledged Sh3 billion to facilitate technology transfer and purchase of modern equipment in order to compete favourably in the global market.

According to Indian High Commissioner to Kenya Suchitra Durai, the funds will enable Rivatex to expand production. Prof Kipkurgat said that the company has embarked on a marketing campaign to sensitize farmers in cotton growing areas to increase the acreage under cultivation.

Famers in cotton growing regions need to increase their production and supply them with more raw materials to sustain their annual operations. Among the targeted areas are Mogotio, Teso, Busia and Bura. The company acquired 250 acres of land in Mogotio to serve as a demonstration farm for cotton growers in the region.

Cotton farmers in the North Rift have, however, petitioned the government to set up a stabilization fund to offer them guaranteed market and better returns from the produce.

The farmers argued that the fund will cushion them from unpredictable prices and spur increased productivity to sustain steady supply of yarn to the textile industry.

James Yatich from Baringo County said that the steady market and allocation of adequate funds to invest in modern production techniques will result in increased cotton production and cut down costs of importing the raw material.

The Ministry of Agriculture has launched a marketing strategy to promote cultivation of cotton and rice in Kerio Valley through supplementary irrigation schemes. The region produced 852.60 tons of cotton from 794.5 hectares as more pastoralists invest in cultivation of the crops.

The purchasing and distribution of free certified cotton seeds and stabilization of price for seed cotton to Sh 32 per kilogram delivered to ginnery has encouraged farmers to invest in cultivation of the crop, stated annual agricultural report released in May. According to the report, the region has potential of 300-400 hectares of cotton production under irrigation.

The revival of Salawa cotton ginnery and distribution of free seed by the government has motivated farmers in Kerio valley region to invest in cotton production.

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