The National government plans to establish one thousand cotton demonstration farms in 23 cotton-growing counties ahead of the commercialisation of BT cotton.
Speaking during the official launch of a demonstration plot in Busia on Monday, the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS), Peter Munya said the aim is to train farmers prior to commercial farming of the new cotton variety.
“Each demonstration farm will train at least 40 farmers to create a pool of 40,000 cotton farmers that will form part of catchment of BT cotton in readiness for commercial BT cotton farming in the country,” Munya said, adding that 60 demonstration farms will be established in Busia.
Munya added that the government targets 200,000 acres under BT cotton cultivation by 2022 hence creating over 2,500 jobs for Kenyans along the value chain.
He at the same time, indicated that the government will and smallholder farmers cotton development organisations, capacity build governance and leadership in cotton farmers’ cooperatives, modernize cotton ginneries and establish new ones to serve cotton cluster growing counties and enhance value addition and market acquisition to guarantee the long term success of the programme.
The CS called upon the county governments of the respective cotton growing counties to support the programme by providing complimentary support services especially extension services to farmers.
Munya said that the government has also set aside funds to revive cotton ginneries across the country and provide farmers with inputs.
He at the same time said that there is need to grow the hybrid cotton seed, stating that it is far much better than the traditional one.
The Busia Governor, Sospeter Ojaamong promised to work closely with the National government to ensure that the project succeeds.
“We are going to support it fully by supporting farmers and their cooperative movements,” he said.
Ojaamong appealed to the National government to give the County Sh.1 billion to revive the cotton industry.
The PS State Department for Cooperatives, Ali Noor on his part said that there is need to revitalize the cooperatives for the success of the project.
“We have already started reviving Muluanda Ginnery in Samia and we are working closely with the area MP,” he said adding that plans are underway to revive 25 more in the cotton growing counties.
Noor added that they will work with development partners, state department of crop development and the respective county governments.
“For this programme to succeed all farmers must be organised in cooperatives,” he said arguing that when the farmer is alone he cannot enjoy economies of scale.
He added the role of the Cooperative department will be to ensure that cotton farmers join cooperative societies.
Kenya becomes the seventh country in Africa to adopt the BT cotton after South Africa, Sudan, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria and Eswatini.
The Cabinet approved commercial farming of BT cotton in the country after successful research and trials and has put necessary legislation for the success of revival of cotton farming in the country.
By Salome Alwanda