Homa Bay County is among the counties that have benefited from a number of trainings and empowerment programmes, courtesy of a limited liability company which aims at reviving the cotton industry.

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The company, dubbed Rift Valley Products Limited (RVP), undertook these programmes in collaboration with the County Government of Homa Bay.

RVP seeks to increase income, food and nutrition security of cotton-producing smallholder farmers in the Western region counties like Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Busia.

Speaking in a workshop that brought together more than 300 cotton farmers drawn from different sub counties in Rachuonyo, RVP mobilization manager David Amboko said that Homa Bay farmers have received the most trainings among the farmers in the four counties.

“We have managed to reach and train more than 12, 000 farmers and Homa Bay County contributes to more than half the number,” said Amboko.

Cotton was a major cash crop in the country in the 1990s but became financially unattractive and an unstable enterprise for farmers due to volatile pricing, poor pest and disease surveillance, high input and transport costs and collapse of the cotton board of Kenya that left many farmers unpaid.

To curb the challenge, RVP came up with new strategies to urge farmers to revive the spirit of cotton growing by introducing new favorable market prices.

“The new regulation of market prices sees farmers purchasing 1kg at Sh55 and the payment must be done within 48 hours without delay,” stated the manager.

The company does not only educate farmers but has set up demonstration sites, where the farmers are trained on how to use the newly introduced hybrid seeds which have higher yields.

Charles Odoyo Nyayiera, County Director of Agriculture said they can now realize their dream of revamping the cotton industry that had been neglected in the county with the help of RVP.

“Last year our farmers managed to produce more than 200 tons of cotton worth 11.5 Million which was a commendable income generation,” said Nyayiera.

Nyayiera stated that the county government is working to ensure that market price regulation is maintained and a ready market for the farmers is available.

“At the same time, we are in the process of establishing a cotton processing factory to create more job opportunities,” he said.

On the other side, Daudi Odeka, a cotton farmer for 8 years, lauded the county government and RVP for work well done in bringing cotton production back to life in the county.

“Our group has now grown to more than 500 farmers and we are targeting to get about Sh3 million in our next harvest,” said Odeka.

He stated that they feel motivated to produce more because availability of the market is no longer a problem to them.

“We are now able to put food on the table and pay school fees for our children without struggle,” he said.

By Brian Odhiambo and Sitna Omar