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Tana River farmers bank on rice farming

Farmers in Tana Irrigation Scheme are set to commence rice farming borrowing a leaf from their Bura Irrigation scheme counterparts who are reaping thousands from rice farming.

A rice farmer cultivates his farm at Bura Irrigation Scheme. Photo by Sadik Hassan

Tana Irrigation Scheme Manager James Kirimi said farmers have shown interest to commence rice farming and they had benchmarked with their Bura counterparts. The farmers were impressed with success stories from the Bura Irrigation Scheme.

Ali Barrisa, a boda boda rider, said he has heard success stories from rice farmers in Bura and how they have been able to improve their livelihoods thus he will sell his motorcycle to venture into agribusiness.

Most farms in the Bura Irrigation Scheme are now paddies and farmers have increased their households through rice farming.

According to the Bura Irrigation Manager Peter Orua, trials for rice farming started way back in 2016 and did well in the research area but failed in the field where the basmati type was broken on harvesting.

“The breakage percentage was high, simply because of the soil and the environment where it is relatively hot and the soil was not able to retain water for long and by the time you harvest and take to the mill, the moisture content had reduced to below 12,’’ said the manager.

He added that later on, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) came up with the Komboka rice variety which is drought resistant.

The rice has a ready market whereby the National Cereal and Produce Board (NCPB) buys at Sh40 per kg and farmers expect the price to increase since traders buy at a slightly higher price. Payment by NCPB takes less than 24 hours.

Rice is the third staple crop after maize and wheat in Kenya. The government aims to increase the production of paddy rice to 1,301,000 MT by 2030 in a bid to be self-sufficient thus reduce imports.

The Komboka rice variety is semi-aromatic, has long slender grains and a soft cooking texture. The plant height is 110-115 cm, does not lodge and matures in three to four months (110-120 days).

Tana Irrigation Scheme currently has 4,700 acres under irrigation; the scheme is synonymous with cotton and maize.

By Sadik Hassan

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