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.
According to County Chief Agriculture Officer, Department of Agriculture and Irrigation, Dr. Paul Omanga, Over 22,400 metric tons of paddy rice valued at Sh. 800 million were harvested during this season. The surplus in agricultural yields, will go a long way in feeding the growing population in the region that has been hit hard by Covid-19 pandemic.
Rice is one of the most consumed crops but with low production rate which does not meet the demands due to rapid population growth. “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.”
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.
Apart from land suitability for rice farming, 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.
Kisumu County has two major rice mills namely, 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. According to data fro Food and Agriculture Organization, 21.05% of the agricultural land is highly suitable for rice farming, 41.06% is moderately suitable and 18.46% is marginally suitable.
These results imply that Kisumu County has more additional sites for rice farming which could sustain rice crop farming more effectively and efficiently and County Government of Kisumu can use this result to advice the local farmers on the suitable areas for rice planting.