Revival of four cotton ginneries in Busia County remains a pipe-dream four years after the idea was conceived by the county government.
The county had promised farmers it would work round the clock to reverse the fortunes of the sector, which used to be the backbone of the region’s economy.
Upon assuming office, Governor Sospeter Ojaamong assured farmers his administration would revive the four cotton ginneries in Muluanda, Nambale, Amukura and Malakisi.
Mulwanda ginnery in Funyula Sub County, which used to be the highest producer of lint and has a capacity of seven bales daily, was supposed to be revived first.
Four years since the firm was allocated Sh43 million, not much has changed. Farmers who embraced cotton farming following the assurances are fast losing hope. Their crop, they say, is rotting in their farms due to lack of market and poor prices.
“We had high expectations but it seems everything has fallen apart. We have no place to sell our cotton since the government failed to revive the ginneries,” said Ms Philomen Onyango, a farmer from Funyula sub county.
Mr Onyango said revival of ginneries would enable them to grow and sell cotton more easily, adding that many farmers have been seeking markets in Uganda.
The chairman of Mulwanda Union, Mr Vincent Olumbe, said cotton is wasting away at the stores because the gins are still in disrepair. “We were given a loan of Sh4 million for purchase of cotton seeds and administrative expenses. But about 50 tonnes of cotton is rotting in the stores,” he said.
Mr Olumbe said they may be unable to repay the loan as they are likely to run into losses. “We have already distributed cotton seeds to farmers but we are worried about this loan. The cotton (in store) can produce up to 100 bales,” he said.
The Member of County Assembly for Nambuku-Nambototo, where the plant is located, said the ginnery could boost the region’s economy and employ over 200 people.
But prospects are not all gloomy, as President Uhuru Kenyatta has reassured farmers that his government is keen on reviving the cotton industry. He restated Governor Ojamoong’s position that all ginneries in Busia would be revived.
The cotton industry stalled in mid-90s following the introduction of second-hand clothes importation.