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Kenya to revive cotton farming with mechanisations
Mar '17
The government of Kenya is looking to increase the production of the cotton crop, which is currently at around 10.4 per cent of the country's potential. The government will provide support to cotton farmers along with better cotton varieties, irrigation projects and transparent pricing to help surpass 1984's annual production of 70,000 bales of lint cotton.

Kenya's cotton production per hectare is lesser than the average around the world owing to higher input cost and little mechanisation, according to the agricultural ministry of the country. The average yield of the country per hectare is 572 kg as compared to the world's average of 726 kg.

Out of the 384,500 hectares of rain-fed and irrigated land meant for cotton farming, only 10.4 per cent is brought under irrigation, said Willy Bett, agriculture cabinet secretary in a speech that was read by Johnson Irungu, the ministry's director of crop management, at the Africa Cotton Association's 15th annual conference in Nairobi.

He said that mechanisms to increase cotton yield such as training, subsidised seeds as well as local and international partnerships for a better business environment have also been planned for Kenya's cotton farmers. New irrigation methods will also be introduced by the ministry to cultivate 100,000 hectares by 2021.

Moreover, three new varieties of cotton seeds that can resist termites have also been certified by the ministry. Bett also said that the government will take the assistance of researchers to provide advice on seeds that produce good quality cotton.

The production potential of cotton from the 384,500 hectares of land is close to 368,000 bales of lint cotton per year if market distortions are eliminated and policies are strengthened, Anthony Muriithi, interim head of Fibre Crops Directorate, said at the conference.

Muriithi also said that the current production of 40,000 bales is inadequate to meet the growing demand in the international market. (KD)

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