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Farmers to start planting new rice variety early next year

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The new rice variety to be availed soon will save the country Sh7bn used in importing rice from other countries to bridge deficit gap.

A new variety of rice is set to be released next year in February offering rice farmers the chance to plant a high-yielding, disease tolerant and early maturity rice variety.

The locally developed rice variety which underwent its second field trials in August this year, is awaiting verification and publication in 2018.

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The trial which were conducted by Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) at their farm in Alupe, Busia County recorded an increase yield from three tonnes to 10 tonnes per hectare.

“The trials are now over as per the government regulation on new seed varieties. We are now waiting for the National Performance Technical Committee to do the verification of the new tried variety and thereafter the National Variety Release Committee for publication,” said John Kimani, rice and cotton breeder, KALRO branch at Mwea.

“I expect the whole process to take around two months then upon the release we will do the packaging, labeling and pricing to make it ready in the shops for farmers before the on-set of long rains next year.”

The variety is expected to boost rice production in the country and save approximately Sh7bn that is used to import the produce from other countries.

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“In Kenya we produce approximately 140,000 metric tonnes of rice annually against the high demand of 450, 000 tonnes annually. This pushes the country to import more rice mostly from Thailand and Pakistan to fill the gap,” said Kimani.

“This new variety is as competitive as imported rice in terms of quality and affordability.”

Under best agronomic practices a farmer can earn between Sh35, 000 and Sh100, 000 more per hectare with the new rice variety according to Kimani.

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