The Kenya Agricultural Research Organisation (Kalro) has introduced climate-resistant rice varieties expected to increase yields by maturing early and doubling rice farm productivity.
The agency introduced the new rice varieties known as 08FAN10 (mkombozi) and CSR 36 in farms under the Kimira Oluch Smallholder Farmer Improvement Project in Homa Bay County.
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.
Kalro partnered with the Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) and the International Rice Research Institute in identifying the new varieties.
Kalro and LBDA officials toured rice fields at Kosfip on Wednesday and allowed farmers to see the difference between the new and old varieties planted on demonstration fields.
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.
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.
He said Kalro has, in the past, released other varieties that can do better and are drought and pest-resistant.
Mr Pole said the research organisations will later, in June, release two more varieties. They are CSR 36 and 08FAN10, which are early maturing.
“They are among the best varieties. Compared to local varieties, their production is double and," said Mr Pole.