The Government will procure and distribute Bt cotton seed and pesticides to 23 counties suitable for cotton production during the current financial year 2020/21.
“We have already secured 16.3 Metric Tons of Bt cotton seed for planting during October/November season in the Eastern region. As we seek to enhance cotton production, the Government is currently negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with USA and UK. While we expect a positive outcome in the negotiations, we have a great responsibility for ensuring that we will have the capacity to satisfy the requirements of these expansive markets once they are secured,” says Agriculture CS Peter Munya.
The CS also announced the conclusion of the journey towards the approval for commercial production of Bt Cotton and commencement of the path towards revitalization of the cotton value chain and the textile industry in Kenya.
”The journey towards commercialization of Bt. cotton has been long and tedious, one that has been accompanied by a myriad of challenges, including misunderstanding, suspicion and a deliberate campaign to discredit the benefits to be derived from actualizing its production. As you may be aware, early in the year, on 9th March, 2020, we launched the process of testing Bt. cotton seed for commercial production in Alupe University College in Busia County. We thereafter established 700 demonstration plots in Busia, Kisumu, Baringo, Kwale and Tana River Counties. This crop is yet to be harvested but I am informed that farmers have observed high germination rate, early maturation and resistance to common pests, especially the troublesome African Bollworm. This has given the confidence and assurance that Bt Cotton can now be produced commercially,” says Munya.
Munya says that a thriving cotton and textile industry has the potential to employ millions of people and generating significant foreign exchange. “Some countries in Africa such as Burkina Faso, Chad, Benin and Mali have invested heavily in the textile industry with their textile exports accounting for 30-50% of total exports. With commercial production of Bt Cotton, Kenya has the potential of joining the big textile league and improving the livelihoods for millions of people who will be engaged directly and indirectly in the value chain. Currently, cotton production stands at 20000 bales. As we roll out commercial production of Bt cotton, we hope to progressively enhance production to reach 200,000 bales by 2022,” he adds.
The CS appointed the National Task Force for Revitalization of Cotton and Pyrethrum in the month of May this year. The broad objective of the revitalization strategy is to improve competitiveness and efficiency along the cotton and textile value chain. The ministry has also commenced the process of presenting a bill for the establishment of an institution that will specifically regulate the fibre crops sub-sector with a view to ensuring requisite attention and investment.