Rice seed breeders back to the drawing board

By Judith Akolo

Climate variability coupled by changing consumption trends has seen rice seed breeders get to the drawing board to help increase yields.

Ruta in Kisumu County is one of the stations under the national performance trials for a new hybrid rice in readiness for the countrywide roll out.

Researchers say the new hybrid rice variety is high yielding and requires less water as compared to traditional varieties.

Urbanization and changing consumption trends could soon see rice overtake maize and melee meal or ugali as a staple.

However, low productivity against an increase is consumption is the jigsaw puzzle that the government and researchers have to contend with.

Rice consumption has been growing much more rapidly than production at an average rate of 11 percent per year since the 1960s.

However this growth slowed down to 3 percent annually since 2005.

Kenya currently imports 75 percent of her rice needs from Pakistan mainly to peg the yawning supply gap.

Rice breeders now see an opportunity of a ready market in Kenya is production is increased.

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) National Performance Trials in Ruta, Kisumu County have embarked on a project that could see rice farmers growing the new hybrid rice variety increase yields while at the same time deal with the challenge of climate variability that has seen rainfall patterns altered.

This is an answer to the third pillar of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) of increasing food supply and reducing hunger and the fourth pillar of ensuring Agricultural research, technology dissemination and adoption.


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