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Falling production forces Kenya to turn to importing cotton

Kenya has become a net importer of cotton as the current home production cannot satisfy demand. There has been a decrease in the number of ginneries from 24 to only about 10 due to the low production of lint. The ginneries have an installed capacity of approximately 1,40,000 bales annually but the utilised capacity is a meager 20,000 bales. In addition only 15 of the 52 integrated textile mills devoted to yarn and fabric production are operational, operating at 40 per cent to 50 per cent of the installed capacity. This has led to a decrease in cotton spinning.

There has been a 71.42 per cent decrease in average annual lint production compared to 1984. Cotton cultivation is undertaken by small-scale farmers in marginal and arid areas on small land holdings averaging about a hectare. Only an estimated 40,000 farmers are believed to be active in the industry as at June 2018.

Plans are to expand the acreage under cotton to 2,00,000 hectares, up from the current 29,000 before the end of this year. Improved seeds will be used to improve production of the crop in western Kenya where cotton farming is largely practiced. Seeds are being tested in different parts of the country.