The government is investing on the new genetically modified Bt Cotton to revive cotton farming sector that collapsed about 30 years ago after the liberalization of the market, allowing the importation of second hand clothes.
The production of cotton has remained very low due to several challenges facing the country, key among them pests and low quality seeds, with the new variety set to address these setbacks.
The Bt variety that has been tested for the last 20 years, matures earlier and is resistant to pests.
The government is investing in this sector in a bid to create more than 50,000 jobs and generate ksh. 20,000 per year from exportation of the apparel.
Addressing stakeholders on Monday during the launch of BT cotton at Alupe University College in Teso South Constituency, Busia County, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the new improved seeds have the ability to resist the African bollworm that has been a great challenge in cotton production leading to total loss.
“With Bt cotton, Kenyan farmers will enjoy a four-year fold reduction in production costs. The global experience with Bt cotton show that the improved insect resistant varieties greatly boost cotton production by addressing the challenges caused by pests,” he said.
The CS urged farmers to take advantage of the new variety, noting that scientists have proved that the planting Bt cotton drastically cuts the use of harmful insecticides leading to cleaner environment and improved farmer health.
Mr Munya was accompanied by his Devolution counter-part Eugene Wamalwa who echoed the government’s commitment to realization of the Big Four Agenda to ensure the county is self-reliant on matters food security.
“The Manufacturing pillar has identified backward and forward linkages with the Agricultural sector through agro-processing and value addition as critical success factor. Adoption of Bt cotton had been identifying as a great opportunity in the reviving of the cotton, textile and apparel sector.
He added that the development aligns with the ambitious plan to boost the DGP contribution of the manufacturing sector from the current 9.5 percent to the 15 percent by the year 2022.
“The country targets to have over 200,000 acres under commercial Bt cotton cultivation, creating over 50,000 jobs for Kenyans along the value chain.”
Other leaders present included Principal Secretaries Ali Noor Ismael (Cooperatives), Hamadi Boga (Crop Development), Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong, his deputy Moses Mulomi, MPs Oundo Mudenyo (Funyula), Oku Kaunya (Teso North), Florence Mutua (Busia Women Representative), Busia County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri among other representative from Kisumu and Homabay counties.
According to Mr Wamalwa, the National government is also working with counties to ensure the existing ginneries are revitalized.
“As Rivatex is being revived we hope the same will be done to Kicomi and other available ginneries to ensure constant supply of raw materials. I urge our farmers to work hard towards realization of this noble course that is if well executed will be a game changer towards economic freedom,” he said.
Busia governor Sospeter Ojamong’ applauded the government for choosing Busia as the first county for the launch and pledged to support the cooperatives and famers to ensure the program is fruitful.
“Agriculture is the backbone of Busia County and cotton is our main cash crop. We will ensure our farmers get adequate training through demonstration farms that will assist so that we maximize production of Bt Cotton.
In Africa, Kenya now joins six other countries that have already approved this variety namely South Africa, Sudan, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, and eSwatini.