KNA Rice farmers in Kisumu County are an excited lot following bountiful returns of the crop, occasioned by Government interventions and the use of modern technology in farming.
In the previous season between June 2020 and February 2021, rice production from the over 42 schemes in the area increased from 15 to 35 bags of 80 kgs per acre.
Over 22,400 metric tons of paddy rice valued at Sh. 800 million were harvested during this season.
The County Chief Officer, Department of Agriculture and Irrigation, Dr. Paul Omanga noted that the surplus in agricultural yields, would go a long way in feeding the growing population in the region that has been hit hard by Covid-19 pandemic.
“Past efforts to address challenges facing rice farmers and improving rice production have succeeded in improving production levels to take advantage of the huge market demand that exists locally,” said Dr. Omanga.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries, through the State Department of Crops Development and Agriculture Research, supplied 20.8 metric tons of certified rice seeds worth Sh. 4.8 million.
The consignment from the National government benefitted some 3,500 rice farmers in Nyando, Nyakach, Muhoroni and Kisumu East Sub- counties. These were planted on more than 2,600 acres of rice plantation schemes in the region.
In a bid to bolster the economic empowerment and living standards of local rice farmers, the county has tirelessly worked on improving irrigation infrastructure for efficient water utilization.
Farmers have been encouraged to use certified seeds of rice varieties as opposed to the traditional ones. In addition, they employ improved agronomic practices like planting in rows, timely fertilizer application and using recommended rates.
Crops are now protected against insect pests and diseases as well as timely harvesting using modern combine harvesters.
However, processing and marketing challenges have been experienced with the doubled rate of production with most of the paddies still with farmers and in storage facilities in Kisumu and Ahero.
The County has two large rice mills; Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) and Western Kenya Rice Mills in Kibos and Ahero respectively with a total milling capacity of 7 metric tons per hour