Cabinet Secretary for Industry, Trade & Cooperatives Adan Mohamed has launched the first cotton ginnery worth Ksh 90 Million at Kinondo village in Kwale County.
The ginnery will be constructed by Base Titanium Limited through the Kwale Pamba Viazi Farmers Cooperative Society.
The Government of Kenya’s Big 4 Agenda includes the goal of reviving the Kenyan cotton industry, from farming, through ginning and onto to garment production.
Over the past two days senior government officials headed by Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed for Industry, Trade & Cooperatives, the Chief Administrative Secretary for Petroleum and Mining and the Principal Secretary for Agriculture have been in Kwale examining Base Titanium’s (Base) Kwale Cotton programme as a potential model to roll out across the country.
Central to the visit was the laying of the foundation stone for a ginnery as part of a KES90 million business centre in Kinondo.
Base’s cotton programme centres on the PAVI Cooperative which was founded in 2014 to organise and support farmer’s participating in the mining company’s agricultural livelihoods programmes.
The ginnery will be designed to house six gins that can process up to 1,800kg of cotton per day producing around 600kg of lint each.
The ginnery will process cotton from farmers in Kwale, Tana River, Lamu, Kilifi and Taita Taveta and is expected to process cotton from 10,000 farmers by 2019, allowing farmers to benefit from the better returns realised through value addition.
Key to the success of Base’s cotton programme has been the efforts by its implementing partner, Business for Development to identify and secure markets.
This has been achieved through a partnership with Australian apparel company, Cotton on which purchases cotton directly from PAVI Cooperative at internationally competitive prices.
As part of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives plans to replicate Base’s Kwale Cotton programme nationally, representatives from 12 cooperatives from other parts of Kenya participated in the visit and had the opportunity to speak directly with PAVI farmers to hear first-hand the challenges and opportunities presented by growing cotton.
In addition to the ginnery, the PAVI Business Centre will also host offices, stock feed manufacturing and distribution facilities, fresh produce warehouse, cold room and stores, honey processing and storage facilities and demonstration plots for new crops.
Colin Forbes, Base Titanium’s Environment and Community Affairs General Manager, said that, “We were looking for a community investment model that will outlive the life of the mine. So far the cotton project has surpassed our expectations and continues to transform the lives of farmer throughout the county. PAVI Cooperative continues to grow sustainably and supports livelihoods of over 3,000 farmers every year.”
According to data from the ministry of Agriculture, Kenya has an estimated potential of over 350,000 hectares suitable for rain-fed cotton production, with an estimated capacity to produce over 700,000 bales of lint annually.
The potential for irrigated cotton production is a further 35,000 hectares with an estimated 200,000 bales of lint annually.
The current scenario however, depicts a poorly performing sector with only 30,000 hectares producing 20,000 bales of lint annually.
The number of cotton farmers has also dropped from 200,000 in the 1980’s to the current estimated 30,000 small scale farmers.
The infrastructure that supports the cotton industry, including ginning machines and textile mills are operating under capacity while others have closed down.
Currently, 80% of the domestic lint requirement is imported, underlining the need for Kenya to invest in a thriving cotton industry that will support other sectors including manufacturing.
During the event, it was noted that with the successful replication of the Kwale model in all the cotton-growing counties there is potential to generate over 760, 000 new jobs through the cotton value chain.
Hon. Adan Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary Industry, Trade & Cooperatives, said, “The construction of the ginnery is aligned to the Government’s Big Four Agenda on Manufacturing and Food Security as well as with the Kenya Vision 2030 goals on industrialization. Cotton is a multi-billion Kenya shilling industry with Kenya currently exporting KES. 40 billion in textile and apparel.”
Adding that, “we believe this facility will benefit the neighbouring counties and greatly improve the cotton value chain whilst creating jobs for the youth. we shall be looking to replicate the Base Titanium model in other regions in the country.”
The cotton programme forms part of Base Titanium’s community investment programmes that focus on livelihood development, community infrastructure, health and scholarships.
The programmes work to ensure a mutual flow of benefits between Base Titanium and local communities.