Homa Bay County adopts modern technology to boost cotton farming

Cotton farmers in Homa Bay County have resorted to growing Bt cotton for higher yields. [File, Standard]

Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga's administration has rolled out an ambitious plan to revive cotton farming in the region to tap into the country's growing textile industry.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, cotton farming was the backbone of the region's economy as several ginneries thrived.

South Nyanza was one of the main suppliers of the crop to the collapsed Kisumu Cotton Mills (Kicomi). The collapse of the cotton industry forced farmers to turn to other crops to earn a living.

Yesterday, the county government launched an initiative dubbed 'Pamba Mwandu campaign,' that targets to revive cotton farming and turn around the fortunes of the devolved unit.

Speaking during the launch of the drive, Governor Wanga said cotton farming was a major source of income and employment that has been lying untapped.

"We want to establish large-scale cotton farming while utilizing modern farming techniques, including drip irrigation, precision agriculture, and BT cotton varieties, to ensure high yields and sustainable production," Wanga said.

As part of efforts to make the initiative a success, the county government has acquired six tractors worth Sh70 million to help farmers increase production.

Governor Wanga's administration has also established a seed storage facility for 14 registered cotton growers' cooperative societies.

"We are targeting to give 10 metric tonnes of  seeds enough for 6,666 acres to over 4,030 farmers," said Wanga.

Rivertex which hopes to provide a market for the produce has also donated 990 kilograms of seedlings to farmers while the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) donated 30 metric tonnes of seeds.

"The current land under cotton production is 7,000 acres. We aim to increase this figure to 19,600 acres this year," said the governor.

Joseph Opiyo, a 70-year-old farmer, recounts the period when cotton farming thrived in the area. His family relied on the venture to put food on the table.

“We would collect cotton from almost all the homes in this area during those days because farmers had put all their efforts into cotton production,” he said.

Opiyo is optimistic that the county and national government's efforts to revive cotton farming will bear fruit and transform the economy.

The cotton industry used to thrive in Kenya decades ago but collapsed dealing a big blow to farmers.

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