Busia has potential to produce cotton worth Sh3b, says State

Aidah Nasimiyu, Francis Opailo and Silas Omuyokoti at Opailo's BT cotton farm at Apegei village in Busia County. They are among the farmers who have embraced the crop and say it is highly profitable. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

The government has announced plans to support cotton farmers in Busia realise their full potential.

The county can generate over Sh3 billion from cotton farming if meaningful investments are made in the sector, according to Mr Dominic Menjo, the Food Security Advisor in the Office of the President.

The government has been encouraging farmers to embrace BT cotton, which is an early maturing and high-yielding variety.

Local farmers abandoned cotton farming decades ago following the collapse of ginneries in the area, including Mulwanda Cotton Mill. The move to revive the ginnery has been welcomed by local farmers.

Mr Menjo reiterated President William Ruto’s Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (Beta) is aimed at enhancing food security, the digital economy, and health and housing.

Menjo, who spoke at Busia Agricultural Training Centre (BATC) where he met leaders from 11 cotton cooperatives that have been selected to turn around cotton production, said the government has earmarked Busia County to serve as a model in the ongoing efforts to revive cotton farming.

President’s Beta plan

“We are here to make sure everything is aligned according to the president’s Beta plan and the governor’s manifesto of agricultural transformation. We want to ensure we use agriculture as our number one key driver of economic growth,” said Menjo.

About 11,253 acres have been set aside for planting cotton during the first phase of the project. This will progressively be increased to at least 42,000 acres.

“This project targets to produce at least 800kgs of lint and cotton seed cake per acre translating to at least 9 million kilos of cotton lint and seed cake,” said Menjo.

Upon milling, about three million cotton lint and six million seed cakes will be produced according to the officer.

So far, the government has distributed 17 tonnes of BT cotton seeds to farmers in Busia in readiness for the planting season.

Subsidised fertiliser

Busia Agriculture Executive Symplicious Mukok thanked the national government for availing about 82,000 bags of subsidised fertiliser to farmers in readiness for the planting season.

“The national government is supporting us in the efforts to transform agricultural production. This is the right way to ensure that we use agriculture to spur economic growth,” said Dr Mukok.

According to the official, at least 35 giant cooperatives will be formed with the objective of promoting various cotton value chains.

In 2019, the government encouraged cotton farmers in Busia to revert to the cash crop after the introduction of BT cotton.

The variety is early maturing, resistant to diseases and drought and guarantees high yields.

Experts recommend the genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically modified pest-resistant cotton variety, which produces an insecticide to combat bollworms.

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