Deputy President William Ruto yesterday pledged to revive the textile industry in the country to boost garment making for local use and export.
Dr Ruto said the revival of cotton farming will save the country a Sh40 billion import bill annually for clothing materials used to make garments at the Export Processing Zones (EPZ).
He promised to empower cotton farmers to grow the raw material for textile factories to lower operational costs.
Addressing hundreds of garment-making workers from nine EPZ factories at Mtwapa in Kilifi county, Dr Ruto pledged to revive textile industries like Rivatex to produce garments for domestic use and export to create employment.
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"Much of the clothes by our EPZs are exported to Europe and America. We want to increase production so that we are able to produce enough for our local markets," he said.
At the same time, Ruto who addressed rallies at Gotani in Kaloleni sub-county and Mtomondoni in Kilifi South sub-county, pledged to expand water supply and buy one million acres from absentee landlords to settle Coast squatters if elected president on August 9.
“Kenya Kwanza is going to implement a programme like the one done in the Rift Valley where one million acres were acquired for settlement of squatters. The coast is the only area in the country where there are still many squatters and this problem must be addressed,” he said.
He noted that Kenya has not reached even a quarter of its garment export quota to the United States through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) programme hence the need to get more clothing materials locally to increase production.
“We have a plan to reform the EPZ. We want to save the Sh40 billion used to import garment-making materials through increased cotton production. We will use the local materials to make garments for local use and export. That is the way out for the future,” he said.
The DP promised to reverse the importation of 20 million pairs of shoes annually into the country through local manufacturing.
“At the moment, we are importing almost 70 per cent of our shoes and yet we have the capacity to manufacture the same in the country. The country orders over 20 million pairs of shoes annually. These shoes will be made in Kenya because we have enough hides and skin,” Dr Ruto said.
The DP hit out at Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential flag bearer Raila Odinga over his remarks on mitumba saying he (Raila) was born into riches and did not wear second-hand clothes.