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Smallholder farming key to cotton industry revival, says CS Bett

Cotton production in Kenya currently stands at 4,000 metric tons of lint while the spinning capacity demand is about 10,000 metric tons of lint.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 14 – Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Willy Bett has urged smallholder farmers to venture into cotton farming and help revive the troubled sector.

Speaking in Kwale during a visit to mining company Base Titanium, Bett highlighted high cost of inputs as the major constraint of the sectors’ growth.

“We can only get integrated into the global cotton value chain by reducing our costs of production and increasing efficiencies, and in the case of farm yield,” he said.

He says the government will  continue to enhancing strong relationships with key stakeholders such as the farmers, input suppliers, market agents, ginners, spinners and textile millers, in order to boost self-regulation and also promote not only production but also value and consumption of cotton.

Cotton production in Kenya currently stands at 4,000 metric tons of lint while the spinning capacity demand is about 10,000 metric tons of lint.

The country imports more than 50 per cent of the lint requirements from the neighboring countries, putting pressure on the demand for foreign exchange.

“The government is aware of the opportunities and challenges that face the cotton sector and are keen to mobilize various resources to ensure those opportunities in the cotton-textile value chains are enhanced through; access to credit, mentorship increased capacity, expanded value addition, by encouraging the formation of cooperatives and implementation of appropriate policies to support the sector,” he added.

He further noted that cotton farming has previously existed in Kwale County and acknowledged Base Titanium for reintroducing it as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects.

The main objectives of Base Titanium’s CSR projects are to drive the earnings and income security for the smallholder farmers in Kwale County through empowerment.

This is achieved by providing knowledge and training to the farmers, providing access to all farming inputs such as equipment, seed and chemicals, and making credit readily available.

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They also ensure the protection of co-operative and communal interests secure market access offering predictable & profitable off-take.

Base Titanium General Manager for Environment and Community Affairs, Colin Forbes stated that the company made a commitment to the government of Kenya to improve the living standards of the communities in the area in which they operate in, through funding with substantial amounts and community projects that would outlast the lifespan of the mining project.

Base Titanium conducted cotton trials in 2014 and it was discovered that cotton farming is an economically viable venture in Kwale, and further test to determine cotton lit quality including measuring fiber strength and color gave positive results.

Successful yields and excellent quality provided strong indications that this crop has the potential to become an important contributor to agricultural livelihoods in the region.

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