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New non-irrigated rice variety ready for Mwea

By Mugucia Rugene
A demo research plot in Mwea, Kirinyaga showing rice varieties among them the non-irrigated.

A rice variety that does not require irrigation is in the offing, following ongoing research in Kirinyaga County. It is expected to exponentially grow rice volumes enabling Kenya to reduce her imports that account for nearly 75 percent of rice consumed in the country.

Kenya produces an average of 100 metric tonnes of rice every year against rising demand that has now hit 400 metric tonnes according to officials.

Dr. Samual Kega, a crop scientist at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) at Kimbimbi, Kirinyaga says the variety which does not require irrigation is high yielding.

He said a hectare of the new variety can fetch a farmer nine tons as compared to the Mwea pishori rice which at most produce five tons. Kega said the food plant has a high grain quality and resilient to drought and diseases.

“The new rice which is again resistant to the rice blast has been developed to be cultivated by many small-scale farmers as a way of reducing the wide gap of the grain imported at Sh9 billion per year,” he said.

“The same will also go a long way in reducing poverty and attaining food security in line with the achievement of the Vision 2030,’’ Kega said.

He said once the variety is released to the farmers, rice production will increase three-fold.

The chairman of Mwea Water Users Association Maurice Mutugi said the new variety could be introduced in the vast irrigation scheme and be a solution to the perennial water shortage that has significantly reduced production in the area. But the variety is also expected to be suitable for growing in coastal and western regions, officials said.

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