The government has embarked on a sensitization program on how leaders of certain cotton cooperative societies in Busia County will start farming the crop in large quantities to meet the market when industrial parks are in place.
In a meeting that brought together officers from the county government in the Department of Agriculture and Trade, farmers have been told to prepare their farms in readiness to receive cotton seeds later this month.
According to Dr Dominic Menjo food security and advisor in the office of the president, both national and county governments selected representatives from every ward across the county to sensitize farmers in their respective wards to participate in cotton farming and how to link the cotton sector with other sectors in the country such as health, housing, and the industrial park that is being developed in the county.
“Basically, what we are doing is to sensitize the leaderships of the eleven ward cooperatives who will be participating in cotton planting structure and how to link it to the industrial park that is being constructed in the county,” said Dr Menjo
He added that “The launching of cotton planting will be done sometime this month by the governor and the team from the national government but we are here to make sure everything is aligned so that we can have a successful cotton growing and even other crops,” he noted
According to the County Executive Member in charge of Agriculture Dr Simplicious Mukok, the county is anticipating to be making close to sh5 billion every planting cycle from cotton farming through making edible oil and animal feed from the cotton bi-products.
“My rough estimate every planting season will be sh5 billion because we know besides cotton lint we will crush the cotton seeds to extract oil and the remaining products will be used to make animal and fish feeds. I think we are ready to go the cotton way,” he said
Dr Mukok noted that the county is through with farmers’ registration across the county targeting at least 1200 farmers per ward, adding that they are starting 35 cooperatives in every ward to address various value chains in agriculture not necessarily the cotton sector.
“We had a target of registering 1200 cotton farmers in every ward across the county, we may not have reached it but we are close to it, the data is being cleaned up before we get the final data.
What we are saying is that in every ward we are having a giant cooperative society that will look into all the value chains in agriculture to aggregate the sector and do away with the middlemen and link farmers to the market,” he stated
According to his trade, Industry, and Cooperatives counterparts Mr Olekachuna Omuse, through these cooperatives, the county will tell which ward is good in a particular crop and not the other.
“We are in the process of registering one multipurpose value chain cooperative in every ward, to aggregate the sector and the role will be to determine how capable a particular ward able to produce a certain crop so that when we are looking for investors we know where to take them,” said Mr Omuse
Olekachuna, however, blamed the market for being the stumbling block to many farmers across the county adding that farmers have been producing enough produce but getting the right market has always been the challenge.
“The challenge we have been facing in agriculture as a county is the failure of our marketing system. Farmers have been producing enough but they lack a market to sell them. As a department, it is our role to look for the market to take the farm produce,” he noted
Mr Paul Otieno a cotton farmer from Butula sub-county welcomed the cotton farming idea saying that they are ready to embark on cotton farming, especially the BT cotton seed variety which matures quickly with little maintenance.
According to him, it is time for farmers in the county to diversify farming, adding that for many years they have been planting maize despite not doing well.
“We have been farming maize for ages with little results. But this time we need to go back and start planting other crops such as cotton and groundnuts to earn a living,” he noted