By Grace Maina
Government has targeted Cotton Cooperatives as key drivers of Kenya’s revival of her ailing Cotton and Textile industry in the country.
Kenya imports 80% of its domestic lint with the number of cotton farmers dropping from 200,000 in 1980’s to an estimated 30,000 small scale farmers. A staggering figure seeing as that the cotton market was one highest revenue earner in agro-industry products for many years.
Speaking at the Official Opening of Cotton/textile Stakeholder Forum, Cabinet Secretary for industry, Trade and Cooperatives, Adan Mohamed said Kenyan had not fully exploited the opportunity cotton industry had to become a major economic revenue generator for the country and provide millions of jobs for the Kenyan population.
He said that, “Kenya’s Cotton and Textile industry has been under-utilized for several years now. The industry has the potential to generate increased revenue and massive employment opportunities from producers and allied industries along the cotton value chain in the coming years.”
“The country has unique industry advantages like a favorable local market, high demand for lint in the apparel export processing zones (EPZ), emerging SME’s in cotton industry, increased presence in trading blocs like COMESA and EAC whilst having trade pacts like AGOA with the US. These competitive advantages will provide a good platform for the country to invest in the industry and attract foreign direct investment,” he added
The forum is an opportunity for various key stakeholders from across the cotton value chain to convene and lay down solutions that will support short and long-term capacity building goals for the industry.
Government has singled out Cooperatives as key stakeholder in the roadmap to the cotton industry revival. The Minister mentioned the cotton cooperatives were strategically placed in the Cotton value chain to access market opportunities for small scale cotton farmers to meet the demand of cotton in the domestic and international market.
Adan Mohamed also stated that cotton cooperatives have been crucial in the past for cotton production, ginning and marketing. The government has identified the textile sector as a priority area to aid the national industrialization development agenda to improve rural livelihoods and create employment. We want to equip cooperatives to facilitate the cotton production process and bridge the value chain gap to provide sustained industry growth in future.
“Planned investment in Infrastructure development, technology updates, rehabilitation of cotton projects coupled with focus on cotton cooperatives capacity building will reap rewards in the short term for country as we seek to diversify our trade portfolio and revenue streams,” he said.
The country has benefited already from Trade agreements like the AGOA Treaty extension where the trade profit increased from Kshs.17 billion (USD163miilion) in 2000 to Kshs. 83 billion (USD875million) in 2010 primarily due to AGOA third-party country provisions that the country capitalized on the Textile and apparel sector.
Kenya is targeting Kshs.100 billion (USD1billion) in export earnings in the next two years and Kshs 1 trillion (USD 10billion).
The government in collaboration with development partners then will aim to improve the value chain for production, processing, value addition, marketing, financing and policy reforms to seek inclusive economic growth in the industry in line with the vision 2030 industrialisation goals to create a robust and diverse economy.