The revival of Rivatex East Africa Limited (REAL) in 2007 has brought a ray of hope to farmers in cotton growing areas with enticing cotton prices.
Twelve years on, the dream of farmers who had lost hope due to lack of favourable markets have gone back to their fields to plant cotton.
The sound of machines pulling yarn up the lever along with over 600 workers fully engage at the spinning and weaving is a true revelation of the modernisation heights achieved.
The farmers at the moment view the revival and modernisation as a pedestal and solution to the myriad of challenges they have faced in the past since the factory halted services, Saasanews.co.ke established.
As one of the largest integrated textile manufacturing companies, the demand for local cotton is rising thanks to the modernisation program that has seen the facility install state of the art machines to boost in production.
Cotton farmers are currently trooping back to the farms following the roll out of partnerships with 24 counties in Kenya.
These counties include; West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Kericho, Siaya, Homa Bay, Kisumu, Migori, Turkana, Kirinyaga, Meru, Isiolo, Kitui, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Machakos, Makueni, Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu and Tana River.
From the partnerships, there is an expected job creation for over 500,000 people across the value chain.
According Managing Director Prof. Thomas Kipkurgat, the move is aimed at promoting regional development and reduce rural to urban migration.
“This will help alleviate tension and provide a permanent solution to insecurity which has been rife in arid and semi-arid areas like West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet. Economically empowering the communities is a sure solution to resource-based conflicts,” Kipkurgat said.
Kenya being a net importer, the initiative will bring self-sufficiency in the cotton demand.
In Kericho county, the new crop is being grown in Soin area which boasts of favourable soil and is seen as an alternative crop that will become a source of employment to many.
More than 400 farmers in Kerio Valley are currently growing cotton.
The recent county Memorandum of Understanding with Rivatex projects over 2000 acres of land in Soy North, Soy South, Tambach, Emsoo, Arror, Endo and Sambirir wards will be put under cotton.
Sensitisation has already been carried out in Lamu County with a total of 4500 farmers targeted. The expected cotton to be produced from 15,000 acres stands at 3,750 tonnes.
In the past, farmers were earning KSh 40 per kilogram of cotton but the revival and modernisation of Rivatex along with collaboration with counties has resulted to an increased price of KSh 52 per kilogram.
Already farmers in West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo have been sensitized by the company on the embarking on cotton in order to bridge the market deficit.
James Chemitei, a farmer from Salawa in Baringo County is optimistic that the revival and modernization of Rivatex will enable them to consistently plant and supply our cotton to Rivatex.
“Our hopes have been renewed with the revival of the industry which previously was critical in job creation. The modernisation program is sweet news to most farmers who are willing to tend to their cotton which has a ready market,” he noted.
Peter Kieyeng Bargetuny a farmer from Chegilet area in Kerio Valley noted that the facility is strategic in support for farmers and ideal for the fulfillment of the big four pillars.
“We have started going back to the farms thanks to Rivatex which has been supplying us with seeds and pesticides. The financial status of most farmers is expected to change because the crop is market driven,” he added.