Optimism has filled cotton farmers from Taita Taveta County after being assured of a ready market and support with farm inputs by a Thika-based cotton processing firm, Thika Cloths Mill.
The farmers who are expecting bumper cotton harvest this season after good rains said market uncertainties had frustrated cotton farming in the region.
Speaking after touring the company’s Thika factory to acquaint themselves with the cotton value chain, the farmers said the huge processing capacity that the company has, challenged them to embrace the crop even more.
Led by Chausiku Ramadhani, the chairlady of Taita Taveta Pamba Ni Mali Co-operative Society, they said marketing and farm input challenges had been frustrating their efforts to fulfill cotton farming county’s potential.
“What we have witnessed in terms of the factory’s cotton processing potential has challenged us to embrace cotton farming to fulfil our county’s production potential. We acknowledge that cotton farming is profitable and with the support of market and farm input, nothing can hinder us from making a living out of cotton farming,” said Ramadhani.
Thika Cloths Mill CEO Tejal Dodhia said the firm has embarked on modernization of machinery in a bid to increase production and workforce.
This is after increased supply, after getting into agreements with farmers from several counties to be buying all the cotton that they produce.
Dodhia pledged to continue supporting cotton farmers through provision of farm inputs like fertiliser, pesticides as well as a ready market at a fair price.
Her factory has landed big contracts from the government like manufacturing fabric for disciplined forces such as Police, Kenya Defence Force, the National Youth Service, facemasks and uniforms for schools.
“We have huge demand for cotton and I encourage farmers to embrace large scale cotton farming. This will save us from having to buy the produce from the neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania,” she said.
The market assurance comes after years of exploitation by brokers leading to the collapse of the industry, where most farmers in the region had abandoned cotton farming.
The farmers were taken through cotton farming tips during a short training geared at ensuring they produce high quality fibre to meet market demands.
Taita Taveta is among several Counties that have embraced cotton farming after the government announced that it will revive the sector, through its big four agenda on Manufacturing agenda.
By Muoki Charles