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Government starts process of reviving cotton farming in Western Kenya

Counties

Industrialization Principal Secretary Juma Mukhwana (right), his Crops counterpart Philip Harsama (left) and Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka. [Juliet Omelo, Standard]

The National government in collaboration with counties from Lake Region Economic Block (LREB) has kicked off plans to revive the collapsed cotton industry.

The efforts to revamp the cotton farming by the two levels of government is targeting the cotton farmers in the counties of Busia, Bungoma, Siaya and Kisumu.

In a tour of Western region by Industrialization Principal Secretary Juma Mukhwana and his Crops counterpart Philip Harsama, they announced that President William Ruto's government will have all the collapsed cotton ginneries and gave out free cotton seeds to farmers in Bungoma and Busia counties.

Dr Mukhwana while speaking at the collapsed Malakisi Cotton ginnery, he said that have been in the counties of Kisumu, Busia and Bungoma counties purposely to distribute 16 tonnes of cotton seeds worth Sh50 million to cotton farmers. Bungoma farmers got 2000kgs of cotton seeds.

"We started the revival journey of cotton farming and this time round; it won't be empty rhetoric. We are giving our farmers cotton seeds and insecticides so that they can go back to cotton production," Mukhwana said

"But to motivate us (government) and see if you really need a new ginning machine here at Malakisi, then work hard to produce cotton as there is a ready market for your products," he added.

He spoke after having a meeting with Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka.

"For us to reach the tonnes we want we will have clusters in Busia, Siaya and Bungoma and they will all be linked to Mulwanda ginnery," said Mukhwana.

The PS said the national government will also provide fertilizer and chemicals to farmers saying that the quantity of cotton produced by local farmers was too little and insufficient for the available industries.

Mr Harsama, the Crops Principal Secretary, he said that the revival of cotton ginneries and cotton farming in general will boost the economy in Western Kenya.

"The fall of Malakisi ginnery negatively affected the economy in the region. We must come in aptly and strategize on how best this industry can be brought back to life, "he said.

He said collapse of the ginneries was due to poor management in the factories.

However, he affirmed that the government will support farmers in identifying markets for the produced cotton.

Governor Lusaka said there was need to reassure farmers before they go back to tend the crop saying most of them had given up because of none payment before the collapse of the ginnery.

Lusaka noted that there is need to reassure farmers that this time round things will be done differently, because the scars of the past failure are fresh in their minds.

He said Bungoma had very good weather conditions for growing cotton and as a County, they will ensure proper value chain addition to the cotton products.

The governor called on the industries processing cotton to ensure that they maintain good prices of cotton noting that low prices have discouraged many farmers in the past.

Busia Governor Paul Otuoma said that the county is the best cotton producer in the country with Sh20 million being set aside to revamp cooperatives targeting over 3,000 acres of land for cotton production in the county.

Otuoma said the cotton industry has the potential of creating 1,000 jobs and generating Sh12 million per year promising to revive the cotton sector in the border county.

"We don't want to repeat the same mistakes committed before, as a county we are aiming at utilizing over 3,000 acres in cotton farming. We will also engage the youths who have skills to manufacture products from cotton at Busia industrial park in order to promote youths and local industry," said Otuoma.

The County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Climate Change and Blue Economy, George Mukok said farmers are hesitant to plant due to the high price of the seeds which costs 3,500 a kilo.

"Busia is aspiring to be food secure and through smart farms we will get other edible oils." Said Mukok.

The meeting brought together stakeholders from Rivatex, Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) and Thika clothing mills, cooperative Bank and national government among others.

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