New varieties and government investments in rice growing has seen production rise by 51.7 percent in Mwea with farmers taking home Sh3.5 billion representing a 94.4 percent rise compared to 2017.
The good tidings appear to have revived interest in rice farming with area under cultivation rising by 30,669 hectares leased from the National Irrigation Board by 541 farmers, bringing land under rice cultivation in Mwea to 89,960 hectares.
Nationally rice farming also received a boost with heavy government investments in irrigation equipment geared towards revival of rice-lands in Ahero and Kano (Kisumu), Bura (Tana River) and Bunyala in Busia county, which saw total acreage under rice increased by 38.7 percent to stand at 112,605 hectares from 81,198 hectares registered in 2017.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics latest Economic Survey says unlike many counties where urbanisation is fast swallowing agricultural lands for real estate developments, in Mwea in Kirinyaga rice farmlands increased by 34.6 percent from 2017’s registered acreage of 59,291 hectares to 89,960.
Researchers working under the Hybrid Rice Project have reported success in developing 15 rice varieties, which tripled rice harvests during national field trials to between seven and 10 tonnes per hectare where fewer diseases were reported.
African Agricultural Technology Foundation Rice Project manager Kayode Sanni said this would be the first time Kenya has developed its own rice varieties after successful tests in Mwea, Malindi and Hola trial farms.
“With the law requiring a minimum of two National Performance Trials (NPTs), the project is now looking forward to the next step in the commercialisation process— conducting the distinctness, uniformity and stability (DUS) trials.
Results from NPTs and DUS will then be submitted to the National Performance Technical Committee and thereafter to the National Variety Release Committee,” he said earlier.