Cotton farmers from Western and Nyanza regions have a reason to smile after the national government injected a whooping Sh50 million into purchasing of high yield BT cotton seed to help revive farming of the crop thus reviving the sleeping ginneries in the sector.
Speaking at Muluanda Ginnery in Samia sub county, Busia County during the launch of free BT cotton seed distribution to farmers in Busia, Principal Secretary Ministry of Agriculture Dr Juma Mukhwana reiterated the government's commitment to upscaling cotton farming in the country.
Dr. Mukhwana challenged farmers to embrace cotton farming, assuring them of government's support through provision of seedlings, subsidized fertilizers and reviving of the ginnery which provide a ready market for farmers.
However, cotton farmers from Samia, Bunyala, Nambale and Matayos Sub-Counties expressed their desire for the two tier governments to intervene and address the myriad of challenges facing cotton farming in the area which have derailed progress in the revival.
The farmers said the challenges ranged from outdated legislation that does not conform to the 2010 Constitution, poor pricing and exorbitant cost of inputs among others.
'Farmers in Busia face a myriad of challenges in cotton production. The low cotton production is due to the lack of high-yielding cotton seeds varieties that are tolerant to pests and diseases,' they said.
This comes even as their Member of National Assembly Dr Oundo Mudenyo challenged cotton farmers to take advantage of government provisions and embark fully and seriously on BT cotton farming as Busia County faces a deficit cotton production of more than 70,000 metric tonnes of the product.
Dr. Mudenyo wants soil analysis and diagnosis of pests and diseases which have been a major challenge to farmers to be addressed.
'We are in dire need of value addition facilities, infrastructure such as ginneries and other cotton processing facilities,' he said.
The legislator has challenged the county government to prioritize employment of agriculture extension officers to offer education to farmers.
'Under the Government's Agenda, cotton and textiles have been identified among the key drivers towards expansion of the manufacturing sector since it provides raw materials to our industries,' noted the MP.
Acting Director General of the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) Beatrice Nyamwamu said they would ensure that the farmers get the right seeds and chemicals for the growing of cotton across the country.
'Cotton is among the few cash crops that thrive well in the fragile ASAL regions where few other economic opportunities exist, hence providing a source of livelihood to rural communities in ASAL areas where poverty levels are high,' said Nyamwamu.
The director added that the farmers now have enough seeds to grow cotton and chemicals distributed freely to them through their cooperative societies.
The County government of Busia has set aside Sh 20 million to revamp cooperatives targeting over 3,000 acres of land for cotton production.
Source: Kenya News Agency