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State to boost cotton sector with Sh4.5b India grant

Nicholas Waitathu @PeopleDailyKe

The government is carrying out a comprehensive audit of the Rift Valley Textiles (Rivatex) company to facilitate proper use of a Sh4.5 billion concessional grant extended by the Indian government last week.

Agriculture PS Richard Lesiyampe yesterday announced that a technical committee has been established to carry out a comprehensive audit of Rivatex and Kisumu Cotton Mills (Kicomi), which collapsed in the 1990s.

He said the audit will focus on governance structures, assets and technology used in the two companies. Lesiyampe, while opening a workshop on development of national cotton classification systems in Kenya and Mozambique in Nairobi, said the inquiry will help to determine the constraints and how much resources will be committed to revive the company.

“Our aim is to restructure the industry with an aim of involving the private sector. We urge local cotton farmers to redouble their efforts to meet the growing demand in various global market segments,” said Lesiyampe. India has pledged Sh4.5 billion credit to Kenya to revive Rivatex and promote development of small and medium enterprises.

The agreement was signed last week during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kenya. Lesiyampe said the funding will complement strategies being fast-tracked by the government to revive the cotton industry. “The government is committed to restore glory in the cotton industry.

In 70s and 80s, Kenya was the leading producer of lint in the region as well as the second leading employer after the public service,” he said. He said the government will continue to mobilise more financial and technical assistance to ensure the cotton industry reclaims it position in the economy.

Rivatex was incorporated in June 1975 but went into receivership in 1998 and closed down in 2000. It was bought by Moi University in the 2007. Before it ran into financial problems, the mill used to consume an average of 2,800 tonnes of cotton and 550 tonnes of polyester and viscose to produce over 15 million metres of fabric per annum.

Fibre Crops Directorate interim director Anthony Muriithi said the government is pursuing various approaches to help in assisting farmers to venture back into cotton farming. “We are working with county governments and other players to ensure farmers go back to cotton farming.

In this way, we expect to create more wealth and enhance job creation,” he said. Current cotton production stands at 4,000 tonnes against spinning capacity demand of about 10,000 tonnes of lint. To bridge the gap, Lesiyampe said the government imports substantial amounts of cotton lint and seed cake for local textile mills and animal feed, mainly from Uganda and Tanzania.

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