By: MWANIKI WAHOME
Cotton farmers will be provided with certified seeds in a fresh bid by the government to increase production of the crop and boost the textile industry.
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority Director-General Alfred Busolo said the objective is to enable the country take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa) that allows local apparel access to America duty free. Some 750 tonnes of cotton seed will be provided to producers in growing zones this season.
He was speaking Tuesday during a fibre conference at Utalii College, Nairobi, meant to find out from the cotton and sisal stakeholders necessary policies to promote the two crops as anchors to industrialisation.
Cotton production has remained below the national demand due to unstable international prices and high cost of production.
Currently, the country produces an average of 25,000 bales against a demand of 200,000 bales, with the deficit covered through imports from neighbouring countries of Uganda and Tanzania and from the Far East.
“The country has partially benefited from Agoa market through garment making using apparel raw materials sourced through a window provided in the pact in which enterprises producing for export are allowed to import raw materials from other eligible country (third country fabric provision),” he said.
HAVE TO BE PAID
Mr Busolo said since import duties have to be paid by enterprises producing for export within the Export Processing Zones, only wages paid to Kenyan operators and workers contribute to Kenya’s value addition in the fibre conversion production system.
“This denies Kenyan cotton producers and processors the full benefits of the Agoa arrangement,” he said.
Agriculture Principal Secretary Sicily Kariuki said about 50 per cent of the lint used in EPZA is imported in spite of a 28 per cent jump in earnings that rose from Sh20.5 billion in 2008 to Sh26.4 billion in 2012.