News and knowhow for farmers

Makueni farmers set to up cotton production with new variety

Cotton farm

 

Cotton farm. Photo, Mediamax network

Farmers from Makueni County are set to up production of cotton by the newly introduced BT cotton variety. The county produced 1,425 metric tonnes of cotton in 2017 against a potential of 10,000 metric tonnes.

The county introduced the new cotton variety in May last year as it seeks to revive the cotton sector that has taken a nosedive in recent years.

In a meeting between Governor Kivutha Kibwana, advisor to the Cabinet Secretary on Textile Value Chain in the ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Rajeev Arora, ministry officials and the county executive for agriculture Lawrence Nzunga, it was agreed that Makueni dedicate resources to this venture.

According to Mr. Arora, BT cotton is less susceptible to ball worms, one of the crop’s most destructive pests and uses limited chemicals for pests and diseases control.

RELATED CONTENT: Farmers to start planting pest resistant GM cotton next year

Rajeev said Makueni farmers will make huge returns from this cash crop as it is high yielding and is less costly compared to the type currently grown in the county.

In what farmers will find a sweetener to the deal, the ministry has set the price per kilo of BT cotton at 52 shillings

Governor Kibwana said the county government will embark on an intensive farmer sensitization and capacity building on the proper mechanisms of organic cotton growing which would guarantee higher returns.

RELATED CONTENT: Cotton farmers to earn more as shortage bites

He tasked the County Secretary Paul Wasanga and CEC agriculture to discuss and agree on a partnership between the county government and the management of the Makueni Ginneries so as have the ginnery benefit farmers.

Kibwana said a cotton production and training centre will be established in the county as well as a 40-acre seed production site in Masongaleni KALRO farm.

Mr. Nzunga said cotton is a major historical industrial crop in the dry areas of this county and over the last five years, the county has held the position of the highest producing area in the country.

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Inadequate technical knowhow in cotton production skills up to value addition, poor payment and low prices per kilo have however resulted to lack of good cotton business, he said.

The county currently has its cotton grown under 2,097 hectares against 10,000 hectares that is available for the crop.

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