Workers at Rivatex East Africa Limited PHOTO:COURTESY
Hopes are high that the Government has finally come up with credible plans to increase cotton production and expand the textile industry.
Industrialisation and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed’s announcement last week that Kenyans can now buy new clothes and apparel made at the Export Processing Zones at prices as low as Sh100 marked yet another milestone on the government’s road to reducing the importation and sale of second-hand clothes and expanding local production of new ones.
Few tears should be shed on the death of the importation and sale of second-hand clothes considering the havoc they have wreaked on the entire value chain of the textile industry.
Arguments that thousands of people dealing in second-hand clothes would be rendered jobless were there to be a well-calibrated ban on their importation and sale is undermined by the realisation that the same number of people would be used to sell the new clothes and apparel.
The benefits derived from an expansion of acreage under cotton are so obvious that the surprise is that it has taken the Government such a long term to realise it and to put its money where its mouth is.
To his credit, however, Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries CS Willy Bett appears more serious than his predecessors for he has outlined a raft of measures his ministry is taking to bring back the sub-sector’s golden era when the country produced 70,000 bales of cotton a year in the 1980s. The country currently barely produces 20,000 bales.
This has led to near-destitution of communities in Nyanza, Western, Rift Valley, Central, Eastern, and Coast regions that used to produce the crop because their land cannot grow other crops with a ready market due to scarcity of rainfall.
These are the communities targeted to grow the crop.