Joram Kaindi of Syngenta briefs pupils on growing cotton at the agri-firm’s demonstration farm in Mombasa during the 2016 ASK Show. The government has increased cotton prices to encourage more farmers to grow the cash crop for Rivatex and other factories. Photo by Laban Robert.
Farmers, who abandoned cotton for the closure of the ginneries, can revive their crop to meet the demand after the government announced increase the payment per kilo by Sh8.
Kenya’s biggest textile factory, Rift Valley Textile East Africa (Rivatex), is churning out only 10,000 bales per year.
The Eldoret-based factory processes 70,000 bales of yun per annum. The factory was operating at full capacity in the 1980’s until the introduction of secondhand clothes, commonly called mitumba, which suffocated it.
Cotton farmers have been receiving Sh42 per kilo, but the price has been increased to Sh50 to not only match that of Uganda and Tanzania, but also encourage more acreage.
The company managing Director Thomas Kipkurgat described the below-capacity operation as “severe shortage”.
The MD urged farmers to grow more cotton to enable the factory meet its raw material requirement, which will in turn create more jobs and revenue for all.
Moi University Research Centre bought Rivatex in 2007 after nine years under receivership.
Cotton does well in most regions in Kenya, which include Nyanza, Western, Coast, central, Eastern and Rift Valley.
The garment making crop does well in warm regions with rainfall of between 850mm and 1100mm per year. Maximum yields cannot be achieved below a rainfall of 500mm unless with the support of irrigation.
Apart from having a humid climate and loamy soil, the temperatures should be between 20 and 28 degrees Celsius through the year.