Rice is considered one of the major contributors to the realization of food security in Kenya. Initiatives being put in place by Lake Basin Development Authority together with the proposals in the next phase of the National Rice Development Strategy are expected to address most of the challenges facing rice production in Western Kenya. The government is installing a Sh65 million rice milling machine at the Lake Basin Rice Mill, a subsidiary of LBDA in Kisumu.
The cost of production and paddy processing is anticipated to decrease with the installation and bring efficiency at the mill. According to LBDA Chairman Mr Odoyo Owidi “This achievement will result in an immense contribution to the sustainability of rice agribusiness, poverty alleviation and food security goals.”
Interventions towards improving productivity at farmer level are ongoing to reduce production costs, labour expenses as well as other operational costs. The authority is targeting efficiency in milling to enhance profitability both at the farm and the mill and enable the authority take more rice from farmers.
Besides revamping the mill, MD Raymond Omollo, said “LBDA is focusing on increasing rice farm acreage in the region for food sufficiency by providing farm inputs and extension services to farmers. production capacity will increase from 1.1 tonnes to 3.5 tonnes per hour after a new mill is installed.”
At the rice mill, Grade One products like Pishori and Sindano (non-aromatic) rice are being sold to retail outlets at Sh200 and Sh100 per kg respectively. Grade Two is sold in 50kg to institutions. Other products are Bran meal, chicken feed and husk. The LBDA pays farmers within a week of delivery.
Implications of The Interventions
Farmers are paid per kilogram of paddy delivered based on the variety. This is among other interventions such as to enlighten and educate farmers on the importance of using certified rice seed, fertilizer, and farm mechanization and provide them with rice varieties of high quality.
LBDA purchases paddy from farmers in Bunyala, Migori, Oluch-Kimira Irrigation Scheme in Homa Bay, West Kano and Ahero. Demand for rice has grown at more than 12% compared to wheat at 4% and maize 1%.
The challenge has in the past left the authority with few options besides relying heavily on the efficiency of its machinery and the effectiveness of its marketing team to deliver to the market competitively priced products of high quality.
Farmers in the Lake Region Economic Bloc hope the machine with a crushing capacity of four tonnes per hour will create ready market and boost their income. The mill has been producing graded rice and by-products such as bran meal, husks and chicken feed. The rice and by-products are sold through established distributors, schools and colleges as well as supermarkets.
LBDA also does third party milling for individual farmers and institutions such as National Cereals and Produce Board, the Kenya National Trading Corporation, Kodiaga and Kibos prisons with immediate consumers such as Maranda High School, Maseno University and prisons within the region.