KENYA – The government of Kenya, through the National Rice Development Strategy seeks to increase rice production from 128,000 tonnes to 846,000 tonnes, sevenfold by 2030.

The agriculture PS Paul Ronoh revealed this through a speech read by the ministry’s Director for Crop Resources Management Douglas Kangi during the Kenya National Rice Conference held on November 16 in Nairobi.

The ambitions follow the implementation of the second phase of the NRDS 2019-2030 which is ongoing and seeks to increase local rice production to a level where Kenya becomes self-sufficient.

To achieve this, the National Rice Development Strategy is focused on developing new rice varieties that require less water to grow and produce better yields.

As of 2022, government statistics showed that local paddy production registered a slight increment to stand at 192,299 tonnes.

The per capita consumption has risen sharply from 12kgs in 2016 to 28kgs in 2022, putting the demand at 1.2 million tonnes.

Agriculture PS Paul Ronoh said the local demand for rice continues to increase due to rising population, urbanization, and changing food habits.

“Local rice production is only 20 percent of total demand with the gap sealed through imports from Asia and regional markets. The total importation bill was Sh34.4 billion in 2022,” the PS said.

The PS said the conference seeks to address issues affecting the sub-sector, which include improving access to high-yielding rice varieties, mechanization, promotion of private sector participation, climate change, employment of digital technology in the rice value chain, and policy issues.

Ronoh said various government initiatives have been undertaken to increase rice production in the country like the construction of Thiba Dam in Kirinyaga county, which has increased production in the Mwea irrigation scheme from 19,000 tonnes in 2019 to 138,000 tonnes in 2022.

“Kenya is among the 32 African countries implementing the Coalition for Africa Rice Development Initiative. In line with this, the first phase of the NRDS 2008-2018 was developed,” the PS said.

He added that Kenya also participated in the development of the East African Community (EAC) Rice Development Strategy that will address issues of regional concern like research and information sharing, enhancement of policy integration, advance market competitiveness of locally produced rice as well as promotion of interregional trading among other interventions.

On his part, Dr. Eliud Kireger, director general of Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation said one of their strategic objectives is to improve crop production, productivity, and utilization.

He highlighted that various strides have been made in the rice research including the release, dissemination, and commercialization of irrigated and rain-fed lowland Komboka rice and five upland rice varieties namely NERICA1, NERICA4, NERICA10, NERICA11, and Duorado precoce.

Kireger said KALRO and The International Rice Research Institute have since 2012 collaborated to implement in-country rice research and development initiatives.

“This collaboration has not only led to the breeding of new varieties for lowland rice ecologies but also in the development of market segments and product profiles to guide rice improvement in the country,” said Dr. Kireger.

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