Valiant schemes produce more rice
3 weeks ago, 23:40
Western Kenya Schemes made huge rice production despite high costs and dilapidated facilities, regional manager Joel Tonui has said.
The schemes produced 22,550 tonnes against the country’s annual rice production average of 120,000 tonnes in 2017-18 main season.
The production translates to Sh789.3 milion. WKS comprised of Ahero, South West Kano, West Kano and Nokiso irrigation schemes.
Tanui said Ahero which has 2,168 acreage produced 5,000 tonnes, West Kano (2,230 acres) produced 5,050 tonnes while South West Kano (3,000 acres) and Nokiso (2,500 acres) produced 7,000 and 5,500 tonnes respectively. The schemes constinue to grappled with high production costs, high electricity costs, dilapidated irrigation facilities, aging structures which cause low efficiency and credit access and repayment delays.
Farmers also have to contend with perennial floods in Ahero and West kano. The floods cause massive losses.
Directors of the National Irrigation Board who recently toured the schemes in Kisumu county to assess progress and production status, commended the WKS for its good record.
Chairman Mudzo Nzili called for increased funding to expand irrigation schemes countrywide.
Nzili said the government should increase allocation to the NIB for the country to achieve food security.
“We need to put more farmers put under irrigation programmes to grow food for the growing population,” he said.
Nzili said the board had already approached the Ministry of Agriculture and was negotiating for funding, which would see more land put under rice.
He said funding remained the biggest challenge after the slashing of the boards 2018-2019 budget.
The chairman said more efforts are required on infrastructure and employment of additional personnel boost operations in rice-growing-schemes.
“We want in place extension officers to advise the farmers of new farming methods,” he said.
The chairman said food security as envisaged in the Big Four Agenda by President Uhuru is key for the development and must be prioritised.
He called on WKS management to provide sufficient technical support to the farmers and extension, capacity building to farmers as well as rice seed production.
This, Nzili said is aimed at enhancing food production, create employment and make Kenya a food secure nation in line with the Big 4 Agenda.
The board also called on government to relook at the taxation for imported rice to protect local farmers.
He proposed that rice should be taxed more, saying the imports have created an influx and unfair competitive market thereby discharging local farmers from growing rice.
Nzili and NIB General manager Mugambi Gitonga said Kenya was better placed to produce enough rice if the government increases funding.
He blamed the imported grain for creating a situation where the country was not producing enough rice to feed its people.
Mugambi said the country consumes about 450,000 metric tonnes of rice annually but has been producing about 120,000 metric tonnes, leaving importers to bridge the gap.
The WKS is a significant contributor to the 120,000 metric tonnes.
“We want proper taxation on imported rice grain. This will enable our farmers to grow the grain and compete fair,” he added.
Mugambi said plans are underway to boost rice production in Ahero, West Kano and South West Kano irrigation schemes.
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