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Programme to boost cotton production in Yatta underway

Yatta MP Robert Basil has teamed up with a Thika-based industrialist in an ambitious programme to boost cotton farming in the semi-arid region through irrigation.

This is after the area recorded poor cotton yields despite planting the highly productive BT cotton variety and getting support from various stakeholders.

Through the programme, the MP will introduce hydro-energy where the farms will be irrigated by free-flowing water by gravity from the Athi and Tana rivers.

On his part, the industrialist, the CEO of Thika Cloths Mills, Tejal  Dodhia will provide the farmers with free BT seeds variety and pesticides as well as buy all the cotton produced in the area for her industry.

Speaking after holding talks at the industry yesterday, Tejal said irrigation would boost production and enable the industry to get enough cotton to run.

She said over the past year, they have been frustrated by the low production from the farms in the Yatta region due to poor rains, despite the huge investment in seeds and pesticides.

She was however upbeat that the new collaboration would increase farmland under irrigation and thereby boost production.

Thika Cloths Mill is among the industries that came into life after the government introduced the Buy Kenya Build Kenya slogan, giving it tenders to produce fabrics for the Kenya Defence Forces.

“The current drought has made it difficult to get cotton to run our industries. Areas like Yatta and Western counties which we depend on for the raw materials did not have enough. We only depended on Lamu whose production was enterprising,” said Tejal.

The MP said working with partners; he will propel cotton production to large-scale levels so as to complement traditional farming and boost farmers’ earnings.

He said farmers in the area have suffered due to overreliance on rain-fed agriculture, since rains fail every season, threatening lives.

“Through hydro energy, Yatta farmers will be able to move away from rain-fed agriculture which has failed over the years. This will be a game changer in mitigating food insecurity and lack of livelihoods in the constituency. Cotton farming will open opportunities to farmers,” said the MP

The MP at the same time called on the government to offer tax holidays to industrialists who support farmers so as to encourage local industries to flourish as well as mitigate unemployment.

By Muoki Charles

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