Rice production yet to meet local demand

Rice production yet to meet local demand

The country’s rice production has tripled in the last seven years against a rising demand mainly from the young generation.

According to the Agriculture Principal Secretary Dr Richard Lesiyampe, rice production had risen from 50,000 metric tonnes in 2008 to 149,661 tonnes in 2015.

But despite the rise in production, the country is yet to meet its demand that stands at 540,000 metric tonnes.

He noted that due to free market policies, cheap rice imports had entered the local market leading to failure by local farmers to market their produce.

“The government is committed to increasing rice production so as to reduce pressure on maize which is the country’s staple food,” Dr Lesiyampe said.

Lesiyampe said that the government through the National Irrigation Board (NIB) was committed to reviving collapsed irrigations schemes adding that a total of 200 schemes were in operation.

The PS was full of praise for the Nerica rice variety which according to him has high stress tolerance and produced exemplary yields with minimal irrigation.

“Currently there are 260.8 metric tonnes of Nerica variety and 520 metric tons of irrigated varieties with Kenya Seed Company and NIB respectively,” he said.

Dr. Lesiyampe identified some of the challenges facing the sector as inadequate irrigation infrastructure, low mechanization, inadequate skills and low access to market.

“Despite the challenges experienced by farmers, the rice sub-sector is on a dynamic growth path courtesy of the many interventions by the government,” he said.

On his part, Kazuhiro Tambara from Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) said that the country had the potential to produce more rice and avoid importation.

“We are currently supporting the country in efficient ways of cultivation, research and improvement of infrastructure in rice growing regions,” he said.

JICA has reaffirmed its commitment to double rice production by 2018.

By Karanja Kimani

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