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Irrigation Board banks on research to boost rice production

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The quest to make Kenya food secure has seen focus turn to rice production where 80 percent is done through irrigation.

With plans to increase rice production to 300,000 metric tons to meet the demand, the National Irrigation Board has embarked on research to increase certified seeds capacity to 600 metric tons and equip farmers with appropriate crop husbandry.

By the end of this year, Kenya should be producing in excess of 300,000 metric tons of rice annually, as per the National Rice Development Strategy.

However, this is likely to be the case as production stands at 150,000MT leaving the country at the mercy of imports to plug the 450,000MT estimated consumption. Research in facilities such as this is expected to boost yields.

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Here farmers are advised on among others appropriate use of inputs and good crop husbandry all at a cost of Kshs 700 shillings.

The National Irrigation Board spends Kshs 20m on research on the 250-acre plot, of which 170 acres is for growing a variety of seeds.

However, uptake of seeds by farmers is still a challenge.

To improve production the National Rice Development Strategy sought to train researchers, extension officers and farmers on modern rice production techniques and utilization, revitalize training institutions to undertake capacity building in rice specific courses as well as strengthen rice quality inspection and its enforcement.

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