Heritage Woollen Mills is the latest casualty of the rapid decline of the cotton industry in Kenya, the Daily Nation reported today. The company closed last week after cheap imported yarns flooding the local market and a shortage of raw materials, especially cotton, undermined profits and productivity.

Up to 90 cotton-related industries have gone under in the 1990s, a systematic decline for a sector that was a showcase in the1970s and 1980s. Firms like Kisumu Cotton Mills (Kicomi), Rift Valley Textile Mills (Rivatex) and Thika Textiles Mills (Taitex) were once market leaders, but they have closed down.

Kenyan businesses turned to the production of high quality textiles from home-grown cotton. But, the newspaper claimed, farmers were pushed out of the sub-sector when textile firms started defaulting on payments and the costs of seeds and other inputs soared.