KENYA – Rice production in the Mwea Irrigation scheme is set to hit record highs as farmers expect to harvest more than 160,000 metric tonnes, a 33% increase according to the National Irrigation Authority.

Innocent Ariemba, the manager in charge of Mwea, said the harvest will be an increase from last year’s 120,000 metric tonnes.

“Farmers will reap benefits from their farming due to ready markets as National Cereals and Produce Board and Kenya National Trading Corporation will be buying rice from them,” he said.

Ariemba added that the authority has taken up several measures to ensure enough flow of water into the farms and distilling water canals as they embark on preparations for the second season.

He added that Mwea Rice Growers Multi-purpose Cooperative Sacco and other private rice millers will also be buying rice from farmers.

He noted that in the coming seasons due to the availability of new high-breed seeds, production per acreage will rise to five tonnes. He added that water will be available to all farms from Thiba Dam.

However, Ariemba has revealed that the invasion of apple snails is one of the major challenges facing the Mwea Irrigation Scheme.

He said the government has not managed to control the menace which has affected many farmers.

Ariemba said that despite the launch of a pilot project to eradicate the snails, the pesticides have not been effective forcing farmers to use cultural methods such as management of water levels to fight them.

State to increase area under rice production to 1M acres

Meanwhile, the glad tidings follows the recent revelation by the Ministry of Agriculture that the state plans to increase rice production from 674,000 acres to 1 million to reduce importation, which stands at 80 per cent.

To achieve this, the ministry said it would address the issue of certified seeds, milling plants and ready markets for the farmers.

This emerged during a two-day joint workshop for senior government officials from the Ministries of Agriculture and Trade at Sawela Lodge in Naivasha, whose objective was to reduce the high wage bill on food imports.

During the workshop, Ephantus Kimotho, the irrigation Principal Secretary noted that the country was currently producing 234,000 metric tonnes of rice and importing another 700,000 metric tonnes annually.

Kimotho said that the country had the potential to increase rice production and the government was targeting 1.1 million tonnes by 2032.

Addressing the Press on the sidelines of the meeting, the PS said that the government had identified 100 major dams for construction to increase the acreage of rice under irrigation.

“Currently we have advertised 34 dams for construction, and of this, we have managed to get private partners to support 12 of them as part of moving away from rain-fed agriculture,” he said

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