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State to supply inputs to cotton farmers

By Domnic Omondi | December 22nd 2015

Over 10,000 farmers in the country will receive certified cotton seeds just before the start of the 2016 long rains season.

This is a shot in the arm for the country’s struggling cotton industry. The national government confirmed that over 24 metric tonnes of certified seeds have been harvested in Bura Irrigation Scheme.

The seeds to be distributed at a subsidised retail price are part of a three-year programme initiated last year to bulk cotton seeds with a view to boosting productivity and market share; both locally and internationally.

The news could also not have come at a better time after the tenth ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation resolved developed countries should remove agricultural subsidies immediately. This will come as a huge reprieve to cotton farmers in Africa’s least developed countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali, known collectively as the ‘Cotton Four.’

Interim Director General of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority (AFFA) Alfred Busolo confirmed the seeds have been produced in Bura, Tana River County under an arrangement that involved various value chain players.

The seeds will be used to supplement the conventional seeds farmers have been planting for years. Busolo, in a phone interview, stated that production of certified seeds is part of strategies the Government is fast-tracking to revive cotton farming in the country.

He noted that the Government was determined to revive the cotton industry so that it can play a key role in economic development.

“We are determined to revive it (cotton industry), to be what it has been in the past as the second employer after Public Service Commission in the 1970s and 1980s,” said Mr Busolo.

The Government in the 2015/16 financial year allocated Sh2 billion through the Ministry of Industrialisation and Enterprise Development for promotion of local textiles with a view to boosting the local labour market.

Fibre crops directorate Interim Director Anthony Mureithi confirmed his institution has partnered with various agricultural bodies, such as Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Kenya Seed Company and National Irrigation Board (NIB) for purposes of seed bulking in local irrigation schemes.

The national irrigation has provided land while Kenya seed has offered the needed expertise in seed production and KEPHIS regulated the process.

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