Kenya plans to revive the cotton industry in order to boost the overall performance of the textile sector, aiming to eliminate the import of cotton raw materials in the next five years, an official said on Wednesday.
Rajeev Arora, cotton, textile and apparel value chain advisor to the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, said that farmers used to produce over 30,000 tons of cotton in the 1980s but production has declined to about 7,500 tons currently.
‘We hope to increase cotton production to 10,000 tons by the end of 2020, through increasing area under cultivation,’ Arora said on the sidelines of the launch of the Kenya Investment Policy.
The key driver of reducing cotton output is the increasing cost of production that has made the cash crop to become unprofitable.
Arora said the government plans to leverage the co-operative model to revive the cotton industry and create additional jobs for the youth. ‘We have a pilot project in the coastal county of Kwale where farmers have formed a cooperative, which we hope to replicate to 22 counties across the country,’ said Arora.
He said that farmers will be provided with certified seeds to ensure they achieve optimum yields.
Arora said that Kenya is keen to use locally produced cotton to supply textile factories that export most of their products to foreign markets and the government aims to eliminate import of cotton raw materials in the next five years.
‘Kenya loses about KSh150bn ($1.5bn) annually in lost value addition opportunities due to over-reliance on imports of intermediate cotton products that are converted into finished textile products,’ said Arora.