With global cotton prices at stratospheric levels, improvement in domestic production is welcome news to any country that has to import the fiber. Although still a net importer, Kenya saved a lot of money in 2010 by increasing its production by 113 percent over last season.
Only twice in the last 30 years have growers in the East African nation posted better numbers that they did in 2010, more than doubling last year’s harvest of 23,000 bales. Only 1979 (62,000 bales produced) and 1984 (60,000 bales) exceeded this season’s 49,000 bales. Annual consumption in Kenya totals about 180,000 bales, so this season’s stellar crop has reduced the country’s reliance on imported fiber from more than 88 percent last year to less than 73 percent this year, according to a Business Daily story posted on Dec. 30.
In spite of the gains, high global cotton prices have driven up costs for Kenyan textile and apparel manufacturers. Some of those costs are being passed on to consumers, who are paying 10 percent to 25 percent more for cotton items than they did at this time last year.