By Jackson Okata
The cotton subsector is set for a major turnaround following the government’s decision to procure and distribute BT cottonseeds and pesticides to farmers in 23 counties.
BT cotton is a genetically modified variety known for its high germination rate, early maturity and resistance to common pests and diseases. The Ministry of Agriculture has procured 16.3 metric tonnes of seeds to be distributed to farmers in the eastern region.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the revitalisation of the textile and cotton sector would boost the commercialisation of the BT cotton production.
“The journey of BT cotton production has been long and tedious, coupled with multiple challenges, suspicion and negative campaigns,” he added.
He gave an assurance that the government would continue investing in the cotton sector to increase its capacity to meet export market requirements, even as it looks forward to a free trade agreement with the United States and the UK
In March, the government launched the testing of BT cottonseeds for commercial production at Alupe University College in Busia County. It also established 700 BT cotton demonstration plots in Kisumu, Baringo, Kwale and Tana River counties.
A national task force on the revival of cotton farming was appointed in May.
Kenya produces 20,000 bales of cotton and hopes to increase this to 200,000 bales a year by 2022.