Eldoret-based textile manufacturer Rift Valley Textiles (Rivatex) has undergone a major facelift, opening up new opportunities for cotton farmers.
Rivatex has also diversified its operations and has opened a Digital Assembly Plant with capacity to produce laptops, tablets, electric metres, smartphones and other digital devices.
The textile firm, which was once a giant parastatal in the 1990s roared back to life three years ago after the government in a deal with the Indian government jointly injected Sh6 Billion to upgrade its aging machinery.
In 2016, India signed a Sh3 billion loan agreement with Kenya aimed at modernising Rivatex by supplying textile machinery.
Due to mismanagement and corruption, the factory collapsed leaving the cotton sector in tatters before it was salvaged by Moi University in 2007.
But almost three decades since it collapsed, the same facility has roared back to life. The sound of machines pulling cotton up the lever, over 400 workers busy with spinning and weaving garments and huge construction works going on is a clear indicator that the company could finally stabilise. Currently, the firm employs 900 people and targets 3,000 employees once the turnaround strategy is fully implemented.
According to Managing Director Thomas Kipkurgat, the funding by Exim Bank will enable the textile manufacturer increase its output from 4000 metres of cloth to 40,000 metres per day.
“We have made a leap from the initial 500 spindles to 16,800 which has increased our output from 4,000 metres to 40,000 metres per day, putting us ahead of other textiles producers in the region,” said Kipkurgat.
Currently, to support its revival, the government has tendered the production of new police uniform fabric in addition to the production of uniforms for the disciplined forces. Kipkurgat notes that at least 500,000 acres of cotton will be required to meet the company’s cotton demands.
This has seen Rivatex launch partnership with 24 cotton-growing counties to revive the sector which had collapsed following years of neglect and dwindling government support.
“Through collaboration with devolved units, we have sensitised farmers from 24 counties and their continued support has made it possible for us to walk with them in the production of cotton to be used as raw material at our facility,” he said.
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