KENYA – The Kenya Agricultural Research Organization (Kalro) has introduced climate-resistant rice varieties expected to increase yields by maturing within 90 days.
The milestone is a brainchild of a partnership between KALRO, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) to come up with ways of increasing rice production.
Mr Finyange Pole, director at Kalro’s Industrial Crop Research Institute and LBDA managing director Wycliffe Ochiaga launched the new rice varieties and urged farmers to adopt them.
The duo had toured rice fields at Kosfip on Wednesday where they allowed farmers to see the difference between the new and old varieties planted on demonstration fields.
Dubbed 08FAN10 (mkombozi) and CSR 36, the new varieties were introduced in farms under the Kimira Oluch Smallholder Farmer Improvement Project in Homa Bay County.
The Kimira Oluch Smallholder Farm Improvement Project in Homa Bay is an irrigation project that supplies water to more than 1,500 hectares (3,706 acres).
The rice varieties will enable farmers to get better yields while addressing food security in Kenya.
The variety Homa Bay farmers had been planting takes more than 120 days to mature, while the new types mature within 85 to 90 days, saving on the cost of production.
Wycliffe Ochiaga, Lake Basin Development Authority managing director said the government is introducing the new varieties, which are climate change resilient to improve the crop production.
He said the country has not been able to produce adequate rice due to poor quality and change of climate.
“The initiatives have been introduced to at least 250 farmers in Homa Bay. They are growing rice in Kimira Oluch, which is one of the mega irrigation schemes in the county,” Ochiaga said.
According to LBDA, Kenyans consume up to 800,000 metric tonnes of rice annually. However, the country produces 200,000 metric tonnes.
The county bets on the project, which covers at least 1500 hectares of land, to transform agriculture and create jobs for residents.
The LBDA has equipment that processes up to four tonnes of rice an hour.
Mr. Pole said that Kalro has, in the past, released other varieties that can do better and are drought and pest-resistant.
He added that the research organizations will later, in June, release two more varieties particularly CSR 36 and 08FAN10, which are early maturing.
“They are among the best varieties. Compared to local varieties, their production is double,” said Mr Pole.