The government has procured a total of 16 metric tons of non-Bt hybrid cotton seeds for distribution to farmers in Western, Coast, Rift Valley and Nyanza regions.
The vehicles carrying the imported certified seeds from Mahyco Seed Company were flagged off at Kilimo House by the Chief Administrative Secretary for Agriculture Anne Nyaga for distribution to the counties of Busia, Bungoma, Siaya, Kisumu, Homabay, Baringo, Elgeyo /Marakwet, Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River and Lamu.
In a bid to address the constraints facing cotton production in the country, Ms Nyaga said the government will supply farmers with the free certified seeds which can produce over 2,000 kilogramme seed cotton per hectare against the current average yield of 572 kilogramme per hectare.
“It is projected that cotton production will grow from a current low of 29,000 bales per year to about 200,000 bales by the year 2020,” said Nyaga.
The CAS said the ministry of Agriculture will establish 720 demonstration sites of Bt Cotton in the selected counties during the long rains where non-Bt hybrid seeds will be grown, adding that the sites will also be used for teaching farmers and extension service providers across the country.
“We intend to use the demonstration sites to educate farmers so that full commercialisation is done during the short rains in October and November,” she added.
She said cotton can potentially be grown in 24 counties in Arid and semi-arid areas, noting that the production of the crop declined from 70,000 bales in 1986 to 20,000 bales in 1990, and currently is at 10,000 bales of lint annually which is way below the domestic market demand of 110,000 bales.
“The potential land is 400,000 ha while presently only under 30,000 ha is being utilised. Currently there are about 30,000 cotton farmers while the industry can be able to support over 200,000 framers,” she said.
Ms. Nyaga announced that the government in collaboration with the local and international seed companies, local research institutions, textile and apparel sector and other development partners will in the next three years strengthen policies, research and development of cotton production and valued addition.
Kenya’s Textile exports enjoy quota and duty free access to the United States of America marker under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in addition to other preferential treatment in the European Union and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) markets.
In his remarks, the Interim Director General of Agriculture and Food Authority Mr. Antony Mureithi said with the new Bt. Hybrid cotton seeds the country is looking forward to a vibrant cotton industry that will bring value addition, rejuvenate the cotton ginneries and textile mills.
“Currently we are importing a lot of vegetable oil, but with the high production we will be able to produce cotton oil which is cholesterol free