Rivatex roars back to life after Sh5 billion upgrade

Rift Valley Textiles Managing Director Thomas Kipkurgat at the manufacturing plant in Eldoret. [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]

Eldoret-based textile manufacturer Rivatex has undergone a major facelift, opening up new opportunities for cotton farmers.

Upgrade of the facility follows installation of state-of-the-art machinery after the Government secured Sh5 billion in funding from the US-based Export-Import Bank.

The giant fabric producer had remained dormant for years following the collapse of the textile industry in the country. Moi University took over operations at the facility, which has led to its transformation over the last two years.

President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the plant to be revived during a visit to Eldoret in 2017.

Rivatex Managing Director Thomas Kipkurgat yesterday said at least 500,000 acres of cotton will be required to meet the company’s cotton demands.

Prof Kipkurgat revealed that the factory has the capacity to handle 40 tons of cotton daily, but it is currently processing 12 tons.

He said that before it was modernised, the factory was only processing two tons of cotton daily.

Rivatex, the MD added, was currently importing cotton from neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania.

To meet increasing demand for cotton, Kipkurgat said Rivatex had signed cotton-growing deals with 24 counties in the Rift Valley and Eastern regions. The move, he said, would reduce the mill’s reliance on imported raw material and result in lower operational costs.

“We are encouraging local farmers to grow cotton on a large scale because the market is readily available,” the MD said.

Some of the counties that the textile manufacturer has partnered with include Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Baringo and Kitui, among others.

Cotton seeds

“We have supplied cotton seeds to the counties we have partnerships with, and we shall be supplying pesticides in the next months as we seek to promote production of the raw material,” Kipkurgat said.

The MD said the Moi University-owned company was ready to start producing material for police uniforms if it received the green-light from the National Police Service. Their fabric, he added, was of the required quality.

“We are not facing any challenges in the production of textile material for the police uniforms. We assure the State that we have the capacity to produce both the fabric and uniforms in collaboration with the National Youth Service,” said Kipkurgat.

The modern machines and expanded production plant, Kipkurgat revealed, will be commissioned by President Kenyatta on June 21.

When The Standard toured the giant textile manufacturer on Monday, machine operators were busy processing fabric as other workers continued to spruce up the factory whose modernisation currently stands at 90 per cent.

Kipkurgat said that apart from police fabric, the company was also manufacturing fabrics for military and hospital uniforms, as well as for making lesos.

He said the company was also planning to start making clothes for members of the public, a move that would further increase demand for cotton. “We are positioning ourselves to produce clothing for the public and the global market.”

Kipkurgat further revealed that the modern production plant would create jobs for more than 2,500 graduates of technical colleges.

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