The Cabinet gave a nod to farmers to grow BT cotton in December last year.
The approval came after long deliberations to establish whether the genetically modified variety was viable. The Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation vouched for the BT variety, assuring farmers it was safe and resistant to pests.
In a follow-up measure, the government has made 16.3 tonnes of BT cotton seed available to farmers in Eastern Kenya in a project that will, ultimately, spread out to other cotton-growing regions. This is proof of government’s intent to revive a sector that once thrived.
The revival of the cotton industry is critical to the success of manufucturing, a key plank in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda. Reviving the industry could also lead to the creation of thousands of jobs in the cotton farms and factories.
Cotton growing in Kenya was once a lucrative business that, unfortunately, was allowed to die as a consequence of mismanagement and unfavourable government policies. Large scale importation of cheap second hand clothes populary known as mitumba only served to drive the local cotton industry deeper into the ground.
- 1 State bets on BT Cotton to boost production
- 2 More farmers embrace biotech crops in Africa; Study
- 3 State finally sets the pace for BT cotton growing with free seeds
- 4 Kenya to introduce GMO Cassava
Mass importation of mitumba led to the closure of famous cotton processing industries like Kisumu Cotton Mills and the Rift Valley Textile industries (Rivatex). Worse, the closures resulted in massive job losses.
Rivatex is getting back to life, but is yet to operate optimally, perhaps due to lack of enough raw materials for large scale production. The revival of the cotton industry will not only give farmers something to smile about, it will give our economy a shot in the arm.