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Kisumu Poly to champion textiles revival

The textiles industry in the country is set for a revolution after the World Bank approved a Sh1.2 billion grant to develop a value chain for cotton.
Under the programme, Kisumu National Polytechnic has been identified as a center of excellence for textiles and is expected to work with other technical and vocational training institutions to revive the sector.
Principal Secretary (PS) Vocational and Technical Education (TIVET) Dr. Kevit Desai said the project targets to resuscitate the sector from farm level to the fashion exhibition stage.
In an interview with KNA, the PS disclosed that Kisumu National Polytechnic is expected to develop a cluster of TVET institutions to jointly exploit the latest technology to revive the ailing textiles industry.
“The idea is to work with all parties along the value chain including farmers, Small and Medium Enterprises, technicians and researchers to make the sector vibrant once again,” said the PS.
Cotton farming in Nyanza region dropped significantly after the collapse of Kisumu Cotton Mills (KICOMI) which was the mainstay for thousands of farmers in the area.
Dr. Desai said through working with all parties along the cotton value chain, new enterprises were expected to sprout and span economic development in the area.
He said the State Department for Vocational and Technical Education (TIVET) shall employ the use of science and technology to revive the sector and help the government realise the big four agenda.
Kisumu National Polytechnic Deputy Principal in charge of academic affairs Nelly Okoyo said the stage was all set for the roll out of the program.
Okoyo disclosed that the Clothing and Textile Technology department which is spearheading the programme was already working with stakeholders among them tailors, designers and Small and medium Enterprises (SME’s).
She said the institution was in the process of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the partner institutions in the area to implement the project.
“Already, we are working with Ahero Polytechnic and we look to partner with several other institutions once the funds are available,” she disclosed.
Head of Textiles Department at the institution Dr. Asaka Nyangara said the funding under the World Bank’s East Africa Skills for Transformation and Regional Integration Project (EASTRIP) seeks to support the development and delivery of demand driven TVET programs for technician training in Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania in transport, energy, manufacturing and ICT sectors.
Dr. Nyangara disclosed that 65 per cent of the funds shall go towards purchase of equipment and building of the required infrastructure.
The remaining amount shall be put in capacity building along the value chain and training of lecturers to make the project a success.
The ultimate goal of the project, he said, is to make textile products from Kenya and the East Africa region meet international standards.
“Since this is a regional project, we have proposed to put up a hostel for international students whom we shall in turn give scholarships to attract more,” he said.
Dr Nyaranga added that an exchange programme with Ethiopia and Tanzania was in the pipeline where Kenyan students shall train in the two countries.
He said the project shall help revive cotton farming in the region since the demand for garments was set to rise.
“At the institution here we shall mainly deal with apparels, garments and fashion but we have signed an MOU with Rivatex East Africa Limited who shall deal with farmers to scale up production of cotton,” he said.
He said the region has a huge potential for cotton and leather, adding that by involving TVETs and use of science and technology, the region was likely to develop an Economic Processing Zone (EPZ) for textiles.
Kisumu polytechnic has the best tailoring and embroidery machines in the area and works with several SMEs and tailors besides producing garments en mass.
By Chris Mahandara

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