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Kenya's cotton sector gets attention

The cotton and leather industries of Kenya could see better times, if a plan mooted by the government succeeds. The industry suffered when it was liberalised and the market was flooded with cheap imports. Now, the government plans to rejuvenate the sectors to create thousands of jobs, especially in the textile industry. New measures are aimed at improving production and attracting new investments.

The plan is to create close to 8,00,000 jobs in the next few years in the textile and leather sectors. Top on the list of measures being pursued includes enhancing value addition. Both sectors have been hit by the influx of second hand clothes and shoes. The export value of articles of apparel increased by 7.5 per cent in 2013 compared to 2012. The cotton sector is currently producing about 10,000 metric tons, far below its potential of 40,000 metric tons.

The cotton industry collapsed between the late 1980s and 90s after the liberalisation of the agriculture sector following the introduction of the ‘Structural Adjustment Programs’ by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. This led to the collapse of most ginneries. Currently, there are only eight ginneries in the country. The industrialization plan will further reinvigorate the local leather industry.