Kenya has been losing at least 4,210 cotton farmers every year for the last 38 years due to low returns and importation of cheaper ready fabric from China and India. This translates to 160,000 farmers or 80 per cent of the estimated 200,000 farmers who practiced cotton farming in the mid 1980s when the industry was at its peak.
According to the Manufacturing Sector deep drive report released [recently], the exodus has seen Kenya become a net importer of cotton as the current home production cannot satisfy the demand.
In January this year, the government through its Budgetary Policy Statement announced plans to expand acreage under cotton to 200,000 hectares, up from the current 29,000 before end of this year.
However, two months to the end of the year, it is not clear if the plan will be feasible as President Uhuru Kenyatta in his Mashujaa day speech announced to have instructed relevant ministries to come up with ways of reviving the industry.
“I have instructed the Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Trade, Industry and Cooperatives to work together and come up with a quick mechanism to revive the production of cotton – including the possibility of farming Biotechnology cotton,” Uhuru said.
In the Budget policy statement released by Treasury in January, the government banked on mass production of genetically modified cotton to create 50,000 jobs.
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