The national government and the Kitui County government collaboratively positioned cotton farming in Kitui County for a remarkable revival. Local farmers had received distributed cotton seeds, signifying an important stride towards rejuvenating the cotton sector and enhancing the regional livelihoods of these farmers.
Various organizations in the area also participated in the partnership, which aimed to distribute 27 metric tons of Hart 89M cotton seeds and two metric tons of BT cotton seeds. This initiative promised not only to rejuvenate the cotton industry but also to strengthen its overall value chain.
The Principal Secretary of the State Department of Industry, Dr. Juma Mukhwana, underscored, “Our collective effort primarily aimed to harness the potential inherent in the cotton industry. Importantly, it sought a substantial boost in national cotton production.” This surge was crucial for guaranteeing ample supplies of raw materials to both the public and private sectors’ cotton industries, necessitating elevated levels of productivity.
Augustine Kanani, the Deputy Governor of Kitui County, emphasized the county’s commitment to bolstering its cotton sector. In the 2022 national cotton production rankings, agriculture emerged as a top priority for Kitui County, securing fifth place. The timing for rejuvenating the cotton industry could not have been more opportune, considering that a global shortage in cotton confronted us all. The global cotton trade for the 2022/23 period encompassed 48.7 million bales; analysts anticipated this number would escalate to 53 million in the ensuing decade.
Prioritizing cotton production as a viable value chain in the county, The Kitui County Integrated Plan (CIDP) 2023-2027 demonstrated the commitment of the county government. To enhance production and productivity, they provided extensive support to cotton farmers, including extension services, farm inputs such as subsidized tractor plowing prices, market linkages, and value addition.
The potential for transforming the livelihoods of farmers in Kitui County lay within cotton farming. The county government actively fostered this transformation by providing access to high-quality cotton seeds, thus encouraging farmers to venture into cotton farming and meet the escalating demand for cotton products. Consequently, this initiative, through job creation and a shift from dependence on traditional crops like maize, significantly reduced not only unemployment rates but also enhanced agricultural diversity within our county. It was an exemplary strategy towards sustainable development.
Kitui County’s commendable effort to promote agriculture and enhance its residents’ economic well-being manifested significantly through the distribution of seeds at the Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI).
The Cotton Value Chain Revitalization initiative actively distributed high-quality cotton seeds, imparted modern agricultural techniques, and provided support services to local farmers. The aim was to empower these individuals, not only boosting their yields but also elevating the quality of produced cotton, consequently augmenting income for them – a step towards fortifying the local economy.
Not merely limited to cultivation, cotton farming actively engaged in the entire value chain: from cultivating and ginning to textile production, a critical component, then marketing followed suit. This dynamic involvement presented an extensive spectrum of employment prospects—a catalyst for fostering economic sustainability within the county.
Encouraging local farmers to collaborate with the County Government in enhancing cotton farming within the region was a task that Stephen Kimwele, Agriculture’s CESM of Kitui County government actively undertook.
Representing the Kitui County Cotton Farmers Cooperative Society, Mr. Francis Mutunga lauded Governor Malombe’s administration and expressed his gratitude for the early seed distribution. He requested further support, specifically hybrid seeds, extension services, agrochemicals, and mechanization. These resources could amplify profitability in cotton farming at an unprecedented level.
From diverse regions in the county, fervent cotton farmers voiced their collective plea. They beseeched both levels of government to confront a myriad—an extensive array even—of challenges that impeded successful farming in their region. Indeed, these multifaceted issues hindered significantly the industry’s revitalization; henceforth emerged an urgent need for action.
Kenya viewed cotton as a catalyst for industrialization, employment growth, and the enhancement of rural livelihoods along with farmers’ income. Although it previously played a substantial role in foreign exchange earnings, production dwindled in Kenya during the 1990s because of sector liberalization and the breakdown of an integrated system for input supply. Today, through this collaborative effort, Kitui County charted its return to prominence as a leading cotton producer, thereby stimulating economic prosperity within this region.