By Joel Mzanta
At least 300 smallholder cotton farmers in Lamu have started to benefit from a climate change mitigation program.
The farmers drawn from seven groups in the areas of Bahari and Mkunumbi received farming inputs from the initiative dubbed Kenya Climate Smart Project.
Lamu County Chief of Staff Mohammed Bute presided the event Mpeketoni on Friday June 10, 2022 where he urged the farmers to take full advantage of the program to improve the cotton growing sector.
Lamu County accounts for 45 percent of the country’s total crop production despite there being a decrease in production over recent years, as prices offered by cotton ginneries and textile companies dropped heavily.
The farmers received a variety of farming tools, including a dual-system manual and motorized sprayers, insecticides, gumboots, jembes among other farm inputs. The aim is to boost their management and production of the crop.
Lamu County is one of 16 counties benefiting from an ongoing comprehensive social protection initiative, which aims to boost cotton crop profitability in conjunction with Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP).
“In Kenya, Lamu County produces the best quality cotton. Our goal is to create an atmosphere that allows farmers to expand up to the next level,” Mr Bute stated.
Sentiments echoed by Lamu County Agriculture Chief Officer Dr Charles Gichohi who stated that the Kenya Climate Smart Project is working in conjunction with the county government to alleviate the agriculture sector.
“The potential to improve sectors such as cotton, bixa farming and even cashew nut farming is there and it is the county government in partnership with the KCSAP to provide farmers with a good environment that their trade can thrive in,” Dr. Gichohi said.
He further revealed that the county government had purchased 2,660 kilos of hybrid BT Cotton seed at Kshs 7.8 million and delivered it to almost 2,000 farmers with the aim of subsiding cotton farming in Lamu.
“It is estimated that the amount of seeds distributed to the farmers will cover almost 2,000 acres of cotton farms that the farmers occupy,” Dr Gichohi said.
The cotton beneficiary groups include Baraka silic self help group, Jirani mwema self help group, Swabaha women Group, Kiongwe Ngoi Self help group, Mkokoani women self help group, Mupemukina self help group and Uziwa farming and livestock from Bahari and Mkunumbi respectively.
The Chief Officer further said that the cotton farmers also benefited from a partnership between the Thika Textile Mills and the Lake Kenyatta Cooperative, which saw members of the cooperatives receive approximately 3,500 tonnes of hybrid Cotton seeds in an agreement that will see the milling company recover the cost of the seeds once farmers harvest the Cotton and sell it through the cooperative.
The current market price for the seeds is Ksh 2,900 per kilogram.
In a phone interview Lamu County Governor Fahim Twaha also intimated that there are plans, underway to construct Lamu Cotton Ginnery, at Sinambio Area at a cost of Sh 100 million.
“The Lamu Cotton Ginnery, which will be administered by the Lamu County Cotton Farmers Cooperative, received a Sh 20 million grant from the Lamu County Government as part of the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP), for large infrastructure development projects,” Twaha said.
For the ginnery project, the County government has set aside 15 acres of land in Sinambio area and once completed, the project will include a 3-gin ginnery with the potential to process 20,000 metric tonnes of cotton fiber annually from Lamu farmers. This will free them from unfair middle-man pricing and improving the value addition of the sector.