Cotton farmers in Ndalani, Yatta constituency have a reason to smile after a Thika-based textile firm provided them with pesticides worth Sh.200, 000 to contain pests and other diseases attacking their crop.
The timely intervention is a big boost to hundreds of farmers who could not afford pesticides, with some almost giving up on the crop.
The more than 300 farmers from Kivingoni, Ndalani, Kisiiki and Kwandolo villages now expect to get bumper harvests and quality wool following fast maturity of the crop due to the prolonged December rains.
The Thika Cloths Mill industry also provided them with certified seedlings before the December rains as part of government support to the textile sub-sector. It also agreed to buy all the cotton from the area at Sh.52 per Kilo, up from Sh.25 five years ago.
Such positive initiatives have since lured many farmers who had previously abandoned cotton farming back into the sub-sector, with the hope to make good returns.
The Company’s Managing Director, Tejal Dothia said the support to farmers would revive the once ailing textile manufacturing sector and also boost the government’s Big Four Agenda on manufacturing.
She said pest-free farms would improve the quality of wool. “We have agreed to buy the wool at Sh.52 per kilo. We shall also consolidate all the cotton produced in the country to support the farmer. We hope for more future partnerships,” she said.
Previously, the company had been importing cotton from Uganda and Tanzania but has since partnered with farmers in Lamu, Homa Bay, Siaya, Kitui, Machakos and other Rift valley counties to grow cotton, while they provide the market.
The company has been contracted by the government to make fabrics for disciplined forces uniform, saving it from a near collapse due to lack of market for their products.
The farmers led by their patron, Francis Kilango said they expected to get good money from selling their cotton wool, noting that the crop is almost maturing following the prolonged rains.
Kilango planted six-acres of cotton in his farm at Kivingoni and hopes this new cash crop will kick poverty out of the semi-arid Yatta region, known for its over-reliance in relief food due to erratic rains.
“My father was once a cotton farmer but poor prices and lack of market forced him to abandon the crop for maize and beans. However, we now want to take advantage of the kind gesture by Thika textile industry to revive cotton farming,” said Kilango.
Some other cotton farmers, Pauline Muasya and John Ndolo also hailed the government for reviving the collapsed textile industry, saying they are now reaping the fruits.
They called on the Machakos County government to device new methods of helping local farmers as Ndalani was the only area currently growing cotton in the entire county.
By Muoki Charles