KISUMU, KENYA: The Lake Basin Development Authority,(LBDA), is to construct a cotton ginnery and oil press factory in Kisumu as a strategy of reviving the cotton industry in the West Kenya region at cost of Sh700,00,000.
According to LBDA MD Dr. Raymond Omollo, the ginnery project will involve the acquisition and installation of a cotton ginning machine with a capacity to process up to 3,780 tonnes of cotton per year.
''We will also train farmers on new techniques of cotton production to boost their production and income per capita,'' Omollo said. Already, the construction has begun.
The ginnery construction work is so far 60 percent complete as the authority moves fast to revive defunct cotton ginneries in Nyakach and Seme sub-counties.
''We will build at least three ginneries in Kisumu County,'' said Omollo. In Homabay, they target also to build three ginneries in the next one year.
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The authority has also distributed several cotton seeds through cotton cooperative societies in Seme, Kobura, Nyando, Muhoroni, and Nyakach in a fresh bid to woe more farmers to invest in cotton farming.
LBDA move comes amid Kisumu County renewed plans to revive cotton farming and marketing to entice farmers who had abandoned the crop following the collapse of ginneries in Nyanza, decades ago.
The construction of the cotton ginneries comes as Rift Valley Textile (Rivatex) sets up a factory at Boya in Nyando Sub County and targets to create employment opportunities for over 500 people.
The industry is being built on a 2.5 acre public land plot at the Jua Kali area along Kisumu Nairobi highway. Work is 15 percent on course.
Omollo said cotton farming used to be one of the most thriving historical industrial crops in the dry areas of Kisumu, Homabay, and Migori counties and was one of the main foreign exchange-earners.
But, with the collapse of several cotton ginneries in Nyanza and Western in the 1980s due to some reasons, thousands of cotton growers abandoned the crop for other cereals.
This was blamed on the introduction of Mitumba clothes,(Second-hand clothes), that sealed the fate of the local textile industry in the country and froze the cotton market.
Today, Kenya’s garment and textile industry is a pale shadow of its former self following closures which have caused massive job losses over the years.
So far, Kisumu County has received 12 tonnes of cotton seeds, 140 kilos of biotechnology (BT) high breed seeds, and 480 kilos of high breed seeds after the ban on cotton seeds imports was lifted last year.
Omollo noted the collapse of cotton was attributed to lack of enough raw materials, and cotton processing factories which led to the collapse of ginneries, which LBDA is now keen on reviving.