Counties

Rice farmers to benefit from DigiFarm input, market deal

west kano

Ms Jane Kisia on her sorghum farm at West Kano Irrigation scheme last month. Farmers are shifting to sorghum citing low returns and delayed payments from rice. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

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Summary

  • Rice farmers in West Kano are set to benefit from a partnership between the National Irrigation Authority and DigiFarm, a product of Safaricom.
  • Under the partnership, farmers will access farm inputs and ready market for their produce.
  • This comes as a relief for hundreds of farmers who last year were stuck with the products due to lack of market after the Kenya National Trading Corporation failed to buy their rice.

Rice farmers in West Kano are set to benefit from a partnership between the National Irrigation Authority and DigiFarm, a product of Safaricom.

Under the partnership, farmers will access farm inputs and ready market for their produce.

This comes as a relief for hundreds of farmers who last year were stuck with the products due to lack of market after the Kenya National Trading Corporation failed to buy their rice.

According to Western Kenya Schemes senior manager Joel Tanui, the pilot project will target 300 rice farmers in West Kano before expansion.

“Through this project, farmers will be empowered through accessing skills and inputs across the value chains,” said Mr Tanui.

“The partnership has brought on board Afritech Seeds Ltd, a company that will provide seeds and buys back the produce once it is harvested.”

In addition, farmers will have access to mechanised harvesting of their produce.

West Kano Irrigation scheme is known for growing non-aromatic ITA and IR varieties.

“Farmers will be planting the AT054 rice variety which is high yielding compared to traditional IR and ITA,” he said.

Afritech Seed Limited is supposed to buy the rice at Sh35 per kilo.

Due to lack of a ready market, most farmers are forced to sell their paddy to the Uganda traders at a throw-away price of sh27 per kilo.

Moses Sinogo, the chairman of the West Kano Irrigation Scheme says so far farmers have gotten access to herbicides, fertilisers and seeds for planting.

The farmer has two acres of paddy which he expects to harvest in the next three months.

"They came when we are about to start the planting season this year in August. They introduced themselves to the management team," said Mr Sinogo.

“Since our block was in the planting season, they came to farmers to sale their policies.”

They are loaning farmers after which they deduct the amount once the rice produce is sold. In their package, DigiFarm offers a limit of not more than sh35000 per acre.

Mr Tanui noted that farmers will have access to drone technology which will be used to deal with the problem of bird menace.

"Birds have been a bigger challenge for farmers. The DigiFarm team is supposed to pilot drone spraying at the brooding place for birds," he said.

Western Kenya Schemes Senior Manager said they are still seeking approval from the Ministry of Agriculture to use drone technology to control birds.