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Shoppers to pay less for rice as cost drops 40 per cent

Margaret Wangu and Judy Waruguru plant rice on their paddy at Mwea Irrigation Scheme. PHOTO | BONIFACE MWANGI
Margaret Wangu and Judy Waruguru plant rice on their paddy at Mwea Irrigation Scheme. PHOTO | BONIFACE MWANGI  

The price of rice at Kenya’s largest irrigation scheme has dropped 40 per cent on the onset of harvesting, signalling relief for consumers who have been grappling with high costs.

A kilogramme of pishori at Mwea, which is managed by the National Irrigation Board (NIB), is currently retailing at a low of Sh120 from a high of Sh200 last month. Retail prices though are yet to fall due to old stocks.

The high price had been attributed to a prolonged drought in the country that cut production by nearly two thirds.

Rice production at the scheme, said the NIB, dropped from the average 830,000 bags yield in the season that ended in March to 332,000 bags.

“We are expecting good harvest this season and this has already impacted positively on the price with a kilo now retailing at Sh120 from Sh200 last month,” said Innocent Ariemba, Mwea scheme manager.

Mr Ariemba forecasts 650,000 bags of 100 kg will be harvested from 26,000 acres currently under crop.

The ratoon variety, which will commence next year will yield 260,000 bags, boosting the available stocks.

Mr Ariemba had last month said the price would drop mid this month. “We have not changed our prices as we are still selling the old stocks, but I think we shall do that once we get the cheap grain,” said an attendant at the supermarket.

The volume of rice imports this year rose to 353,082 tonnes from 261,819 tonnes in the same period last year according to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. The increase was to cover for the local deficit.

Mwea irrigation scheme accounts for 80 per cent of Kenya’s rice production playing a major role in supply of the grain in the country that relies on imports to bridge the deficit.

Kenya produces 150,000 tonnes a year creating a deficit of 250,000 met through imports.

Rice consumption has been growing 10 per cent yearly and now stands at 400,000 tonnes, according to State data.

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