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Hope for Siaya cotton farmers as production, ginnery set for revival

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The Siaya County Government has reiterated its commitment to revitalizing the region’s cotton production and expanding its value chain capacity as the national government promises to facilitate farmers’ access to seeds and provide a ready market at competitive prices.

 

Siaya County Governor, James Orengo, stated that cotton has a great potential for production, with an ideal yield of 2500 kilograms per hectare, as opposed to the current 300 kilograms. The governor believes that driving industrialization in the county will be significantly boosted by this.

 

“Many farmers in Siaya County have thus grown cotton before and hence are familiar with the enterprise. It is therefore the opportune time to revamp and modernize our Cotton value chain and ensure that we achieve our optimal production level,” said Orengo.

 

Cotton was once a major source of income for the residents of Siaya County from the 1960s to the early 1980s when the sub-sector collapsed.

 

He spoke at the Siaya Technical Institute where the County hosted a Cotton, Textile & Apparels Value Chain Stakeholders’ Engagement Forum as part of its bigger plans to shore up activities in the multi-billion-shilling industry, boost the County’s economy and improve the livelihoods of those dependent on the industry.

 

The Governor said his administration endeavors to have a Climate Resilient Stronger Cotton Value Chain whose players are adequately capacity built. The county offers tailor made extension services where farmers are trained on Technologies Innovations and Management Practices (TIMPs) in cotton.

 

In Commercial Value chains under cotton 6,000Kgs of cotton seed were distributed in the last  financial year. This year (2023-2024) a total of 18,625Kg of Cotton seed is to be distributed.

 

“Alive to the fact that cotton yields are greatly enhanced under irrigation, the county supports this noble idea. A collaborative effort with the National Government is in full gear to support Farmer Led Irrigation Development,” said Orengo.

 

Ugambe irrigation scheme under the Bondo Irrigation Cluster is slated for revival and rehabilitation, besides, the Irrigation Act is set for domestication with the County Irrigation Development Unit to be established for better implementation of irrigation development.

 

To enhance access to finance, the county government said it is finalizing details of a Cooperatives Development Fund will also go a long way in availing finances to societies for value addition.

 

State Department for Industrialization Principal Secretary, Hon. Dr. Juma Mukhwana said the government is committed to reviving cotton farming in the country, and are providing farmers with seeds, fertilizers, cooperatives, and ginneries to support them.

 

“We have allocated funds to purchase cotton from farmers to ensure that they have a guaranteed buyer. With the help of the Office of the President, we have managed to acquire seeds, which have been a challenge to obtain in the past,” said Dr. Mukhwana.

 

He added, “The seeds we are distributing today are worth KES 25 million, and we hope they will help farmers produce more cotton. Last year, the price of 1kg of cotton was KES 52, but due to our efforts, the new price is now between KES 65-72.”

 

The modernization of Madiany Ginnery is currently undergoing and has invested KES 17 Million and a further KES 30 Million earmarked for next year.

 

“This is not enough to make the transformation at our optimal level,” said Orengo.

 

DR. Mukwana said the government is also looking for an investor to build a ginnery in Siaya, which will help add more value to the cotton industry.

 

Elizabeth Adongo, the Chief Officer for Agriculture, Food Security, Livestock and Blue Economy in Siaya County, confirmed the county’s commitment to supporting agriculture, which is the backbone of its economy, from production to consumption.

 

“We are well-prepared to provide extension services to farmers to help them grow cotton successfully. In collaboration with cooperatives and other stakeholders, we aim to ensure that we can process all cotton products and commercialize them effectively. Our goal is to make cotton accessible across the board,” said Adongo.

 

 State Department for Cooperatives Principal Secretary, Hon. Patrick Kiburi Kilemi noted that while in the past, cotton was the main economic activity for Siaya County, people still have doubts about cooperatives due to mistrust.

 

He suggested collaboration with the Council of Governors to pass the new cooperative law, will help to build confidence among farmers.

 

“We need to encourage more young people to get involved in agriculture, especially in value chains such as cotton. Let’s show them that there is potential for profit in cotton farming,” said Kilemi.

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