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Kenya’s rice production increases 80% in ten years chasing runaway Mwea Pishori rice demand

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Consumer preference for locally grown Mwea Pishori or Basmati rice has increased Kenya’s rice production from 130,000MT in 2013 to 234,000MT in 2023.

Despite most of Kenya’s rice being cheaper imports, more than half of consumers report eating local Pishori rice. Known for its long non-sticky grains more than 55 per cent of consumers prefer Kenyan Basmati rice for its unique delicate aroma and natural sweet taste. Consumers also report it to be more filling than imported rice varieties. 

While two kilograms of pure aromatic Mwea Pishori costs up to Sh200 more than blended rice, a stop at Mwea to buy the county’s white gold is obligatory for most Kenyans traveling along the Nairobi-Meru road.

Mwea Irrigation scheme produces 80% of locally grown rice. Despite the entrance of higher-producing and faster-maturing rice varieties such as Kwamboka, Basmati 370 Pishori rice is still cultivated by 81 per cent of farmers in the scheme due to its ready market.

Speaking to AGRA, Antony Waweru, the CEO, of Mwea Rice Growers Multipurpose Co-operative Society said that so sought after for its distinct aroma is Mwea Pishori that unscrupulous traders blend it in with imported rice varieties.

“Many people buy rice from different stores, and some of them get it from Mwea, thinking that they are buying pure Mwea Pishori. The truth is that a very small population consumes pure pishori, while most Kenyans are fed on cheaply imported rice, but blended with small portions of Mwea Pishori,” he said.

The completion of Thiba Dam which has stabilised water supplies into Mwea Irrigation and the addition of 5,000 acres of land under the scheme has seen farmers increase their production from 120,000 to 160,000 metric tonnes this season.

Read more:

Could Western Kenya become country’s new rice bowl?

New rainfed rice could unlock thousands of acres, save Kenya billions in imports

Door opens for food-insecure Garissa to be Kenya’s leading rice producer

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