Kenya, IRRI partner to promote adoption of improved high-yielding rice varieties and climate-smart farming

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2015

Kenya through the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has partnered with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) 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.

In this, KALRO) and IRRI jointly organized a Farmers’ Field Day at the Bunyala Irrigation Scheme, Siaya County in Western Kenya where famers were engaged on the improved rice varieties, farming practices and marketing.

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.

As a result, rice was imported from neighboring countries and the South Asian sub-continent to meet 87% of the total consumption.

Climate change is impacting rice farmers by causing erratic weather conditions, extended dry spells, and severe flooding.

At the Farmers’ Field Day, the Market Intelligence and SeedEqual teams held a participatory varietal selection (PVS) session and offered training on harvest mechanization, pest and disease control, and other best agricultural practices. The PVS process enabled local farmers to assess and choose rice varieties suitable for their fields and local markets. Varieties evaluated by the farmers included Mkombozi (08FAN10), Komboka (IR 05N221), and Sindano (IR2793-80-1).

Eight female farmers gathered to discuss their preferences and observations of the local rice market. They revealed that over 70% of the rice grown in the region is exported to Uganda because they can earn higher prices in the Ugandan market. Consequently, women farmers prefer cultivating Sindano rice, which is favored by Ugandan consumers.

Women farmers generally expressed a preference for high-aroma, high-yielding rice varieties with long, heavy grains that do not clump during cooking. They also prefer rice with disease resistance and minimal lodging.

Further discussions highlighted challenges such as variations in rice packaging, inconsistent cropping seasons due to inadequate land and irrigation management, and poor rice straw management. These challenges are major constraints for the female farming community.

The insights gained will inform local varietal and policy development, leading to targeted interventions to enhance rice production in Kenya.