Mwea rice farmers target Sh46bn from bumper harvests


Rice farmers in Mwea. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Mwea Irrigation Scheme farmers in Kirinyaga have harvested 540,000 metric tonnes of rice worth about Sh45.9 billion going by recent directive to buy paddy at Sh85 a kilo.

Maurice Mutugi, the chairman of the scheme's Water Users Association, said the bumper harvest is attributed to favourable climate, good crop husbandry and constant flow of water.

"The weather was good while there was plenty of irrigation water in local rivers supplying the scheme, which is the largest in East and Central Africa," added Mr Mutugi, who advised farmers not to sell their produce at throw-away prices to brokers who have invaded the area.

President Uhuru Kenyatta directed that unprocessed rice be bought at Sh85 per kilogramme up from Sh45. He called on farmers not to sell their produce cheaply to brokers.

“Brokers are already here and the farmers should be careful to avoid being hoodwinked," the President said.

"Farmers should be patient enough and wait for the government to start buying their paddy. If they wait for a little bit then they will make maximum profit and the economy of the area will be vibrant."

Mr Mutugi also attributed increase in production to hard work among farmers in the scheme which produces 80 per cent of rice consumed in Kenya.

"Farmers worked very hard in their rice fields and this too contributed to high yields," he said.

The chairman however lamented the high cost of production due to failure by the government to release subsidised fertiliser on time.