KENYA – Rice farmers in Ahero, Kisumu County are counting losses after floods swept off over 800 acres of rice plantations, the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) has reported.  

The NIA in charge of the Ahero and West Kano irrigation schemes says the flooding was caused by the burst of River Nyando on Saturday, May 4.

Kennedy Ouma, NIA Scheme Manager says all the farms have been washed away by the raging flood waters, noting that the authority is carrying out assessments to evaluate the extent of the damage but says the expected bumper harvest by the farmers has now been dealt a blow.

We are assessing the damage, but the situation is very bad, farmers have recorded serious losses,” he says. 

He adds that the incident is likely to deal a blow to efforts by the national government to ensure there is proper food security through rice farming.

This comes at a time when the East African region is staring at a looming food shortage after heavier-than-usual rains, compounded by the El Nino weather phenomenon, have devastated the nations, threatening agriculture, transport and health systems.

Kenya has especially been battered in the past month, with the executives considering announcing the flood a state of emergency.  

Speaking at Ahero, Ouma says most farmers took loans to grow the crop adding that many are now counting massive losses with fears that the flooding may continue.

KALRO, IRRI promote adoption of improved high-yielding rice varieties in western Kenya

Meanwhile, The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and IRRI have jointly organized a Farmers’ Field Day at the Bunyala Irrigation Scheme, Siaya County in Western Kenya.

The Field day aimed to promote the adoption of improved high-yielding rice varieties and climate-smart agronomy for increased productivity and income to help achieve food and livelihood security in the country.

According to Kenya’s National Rice Development Strategy -2 (NRDSII), the country aims to increase rice production from 156,000 metric tons in 2018 to 1,301,00 metric tons by 2030.

Yet in recent years, rice consumption has been increasing due to population growth and changes in eating habits. Thus, to meet the demand, rice was imported from neighbouring countries and the South Asian sub-continent to meet 87% of the total consumption.

However, climate change is affecting rice farmers since it causes unpredictable weather conditions, prolonged dry periods, and extreme flooding.

The Market Intelligence and SeedEqual teams participated in this Farmers’ Field Day where they conducted a participatory varietal selection (PVS) and provided training for farmers on harvest mechanization, pest and disease management, and other best agricultural practices.

The PVS allowed local farmers to evaluate and shortlist varieties that could be cultivated in their fields and sold at their markets.

Among the varieties that farmers evaluated were Mkombozi (08FAN10), Komboka (IR 05N221), and Sindano (IR2793-80-1).

Western farmers, however, said that over 70% of the rice that is grown in the region never sees the Kenyan market and is taken across the border to Uganda because they earn more when they sell to the bordering country’s markets.

Therefore, they prefer to grow Sindano because this is favoured by Ugandan consumers.

During the field day, discussions revealed that discrepancies in rice packaging, inconsistent cropping seasons due to lack of attention to land and irrigation management, and improper rice straw management were among the major constraints faced by the female farming community.

The research centres, therefore, said that these insights will build into the local varietal development and policy development and enforcement that will be the design for targeted interventions to boost rice production in Kenya.

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