Lobby group challenges govt to formulate policies to encourage rice farming

Lobby group challenges govt to formulate policies to encourage rice farming

International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has urged the government to empower policies that will allow local rice farmers to earn more income and produce good quality yields.

This has been informed by low yielding and production of rice in Kenya,

IRRI’s regional representative for Africa Abdelbagi Ismail told Metropol TV that putting up the right policies in place will put Kenya on the economic front globally by supporting farmers to produce high quality and more competitive rice to meet the market needs.

“We need to empower policies that will allow farmers to get good income and also good quality produce as well as allowing good partners which we need to be part of the process especially for the varietal release, increasing adoption among others,” said Ismail.

This even as global shortage of fertilizer has driven up food prices and lower crop sizes due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Abdelbagi Ismail spoke on Tuesday at a hotel in Nairobi during the Rice Breeding Innovations Partners Workshop drawn from East and Southern Africa noting that adopting good quality varieties that compete with the imported rice will shift people from imported rice to locally produced rice.

“ We cannot compete to the market like that unless we fix the situation here, make farmers have accessible to inputs, empower them by having good seeds at the right time and support them with the training, at the same time have a clear road for accessing inputs where they can find fertilizers and agrochemicals and outputs where they can sell their produce at a more competitive price.”

The situation was already precarious before the war following climate change and COVID-19 adverse effects hitting hard farmers posing an existential threat to small businesses.

Speaking at the event, Director Crop Systems at Kenya Agricultural and  Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Dr. Lusike Wasilwa who represented the Director-General, Dr.Eliud Kireger said rice production in Kenya faced a myriad of challenges such as low yielding restricted to lowland irrigated ecologies.

“It is obvious that there is inadequate water for irrigated paddy production, and many of our Water Use Efficient (WUE) rice varieties have never been commercialized.”

Dr. Lusike called on local farmers to adopt the rice production technology to increase yields and to make use of KARLO’s plant clinics aimed to serve existing irrigation schemes.

Currently, the rice self-sufficiency ratio for Kenya is at 14.7 percent and Ethiopia at 30 percent while Tanzania and  Madagascar is more than 75 percent.

The latest annual consumption growth rate for rice stands at 12 percent compared to maize at 1 percent and wheat at 4 percent.

Kenya’s rice sub sector is aligned to Vision 2030, the Medium Term Plan III, the Government’s Big Four Agenda, the Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy, and National Agriculture Investment Plan.

The three-day rice breeding innovation workshop ending May 5, 2022, will culminate in a field trip to KALRO Mwea which is one of our research facilities in Kenya.

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