, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 28 – Textile lobby, African Cotton and Textile Industries Federation, has urged the government to set up a technology upgrade fund which will enable local cotton millers to transition to new technology.
The Federation’s Executive Director, Jaswinder Bedi says this initiative will help reduce the high cost of cotton production and the value chain in the Kenyan cotton industry will be more visible as a source of cotton, textile and apparel products for the domestic, regional and international markets.
He says a revived cotton sector has the capacity to create 500,000 jobs by the end of 2015.
“We need to create jobs, the government under the Ministry of Industrialisation has promised to create 500,000 jobs and this is the only industry that can do it, this is the only industry that is labour intensive. All we need to look at is, we have this duty free market access how do we increase our numbers how do we create more jobs, it’s a similar situation with Europe. It’s a huge market we have market access but we are not capturing it.” He said.
The fact that Kenya has its own raw materials coupled with the serious social and environmental issues around the textile and apparel supply chain, Bedi contends that Kenya is the next big investment and sourcing region with direct access to cotton.
“We are looking to changing perceptions about Kenya and Africa as a whole and make the value chain more visible as a source of cotton seeing that many leading global apparel buyers are turning their attention to Africa because of the duty free privileges the United States offers through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Export Processing Zones Authority Managing Director Cyrille Nabutola assured cotton farmers that the government is working to improve the investment environment including lowering the cost of electricity and marketing Kenya as top sourcing destination for global companies.
“Because of the changes in market dynamics the farmers would find the prices very good at one time and then very low and therefore the motivation to grow cotton wasn’t there. The government in discussions with the Ministry of Industrialisation is prepared to ensure that that stabilisation is actually managed for farmers to have the necessary expectation to be able to address those price fluctuations,” he said.