The government has stepped up distribution of both conventional and Bt cotton seeds as it seeks to revive the textile industry.
Industry PS, Dr Juma Mukhwana, said the goal is to distribute 27 metric tonnes of Hart 89M cotton seeds and two metric tonnes of Bt cotton seeds in each of the 24 growing counties across the country.
“The core objective of this collective effort is to harness the potential of the cotton industry and significantly hasten production,” said the PS during the distribution of cotton seeds to farmers in Kitui County.
He noted that increased production of cotton is crucial to ensure steady supply of raw materials to both the public and private sectors as the rejuvenation of the industry gains momentum.
“This initiative aims to stimulate economic growth, create employment opportunities, and ultimately strengthen the overall cotton value chain,” Dr Mukhwana added.
Kitui deputy governor Augustine Kanani said the distribution marks a significant step towards revitalising the sector and improving the lives of cotton farmers in the county.
He said Kitui ranks fifth in national cotton production. “The county government plans to enhance production by offering support to cotton farmers, including extension services, farm inputs, subsidised tractor plowing, market linkages, and value addition,” Mr Kanani added.
He said the distribution of seeds is part of the county government’s efforts to diversify agricultural activities and provide farmers with alternative sources of income.
“Cotton farming has the potential to transform the livelihoods of farmers in Kitui. This distribution of seeds is a significant step towards achieving this goal,” he said.
Cotton is grown in some 24 counties, particularly those that are semi-arid, for its fibre and its byproducts are used for making oil and animal feeds.
Production declined from a peak of 70,000 bales per year in 1986 to about 5,000 bales annually.
The government is banking on the Bt variety, which is genetically modified, in bid to revive the sector and support up to 200,000 farmers from the current 40,000 and thousands of other people across the value chain.
Besides Kitui, the government has also distributed seeds to farmers in western and Nyanza.
– Additional reporting KNA