The West Pokot County government has launched a Sh22m programme targeting more than 10,000 farmers who were previously pastoralists to grow cash crops in a bid to diversify their sources of income.
“The strategy involves distributing seedlings to farmers in a bid to enhance their income rather than just relying on keeping of cattle,” said Prof. John Lonyagapuo, West Pokot County Governor.
“After distribution of seedlings and once crops are mature we will link farmers to markets through established cooperative boards,”
Rivatex Textiles Industries has already indicated its willingness to purchase cotton from the farmers once the harvesting season sets in.
“We will buy cotton from farmers as dictated by market prices at the time of harvesting,” said Thomas Kipkurgat, the Managing Director of the company.
Kenya currently produces an estimated 28,000 bales of cotton against a demand of 140,000 bales per year according to the Fibre Crops Directorate.
Kipkurgat noted that the region has capacity to produce seven million kilos of cotton enough to meet the demands in Kenya’s textile sector.
Coffee seedlings, County government of West Pokot
West Pokot County has been identified by Relief Web, a humanitarian information source on global crises and disasters as one of the counties facing cases of malnutrition in Kenya with East Pokot region in particular having severe malnutrition rate of 5.8 per cent.
With the growing of cash crops, however, farmers will increase their incomes and this will enable them afford to purchase basic food items such as maize, beans and cooking fat.