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Rice Farming in Kenya

Rice Farming in Kenya

Rice is Kenya’s third staple food after maize and wheat.   Rice Farming in Kenya is estimated at between 33,000 and 50,000 metric tonnes, while consumption is between 180,000 and 250,000 tonnes.

Rice Farming in Kenya

About 95 per cent of rice in Kenya is grown under irrigation in paddy schemes managed by the National Irrigation Board (NIB). The remaining five per cent is rain fed. The average unit production under irrigation is 5.5 tonnes a hectare for the aromatic variety, and seven tonnes for non-aromatic varieties.

Rice Farming in Kenya – Seedling Production

To produce a healthy seedlings, the following should be done:-
 Seed selection. Select plump and healthy seeds.
Seed pre treatment. This is practiced to ensure better germination of seeds and better growth of
seedlings. It involves:

  • Seed disinfection. Hot water treatment is effective in destroying the nematodes, which cause the white tip disease.
  • Seed soaking. In order to supply the required moisture for germination,shorten germination period and reduce seed rotting.
  • Pre-sprouting. The seeds are drained and covered with grass for 24 to 48 hours. This ensures uniform seed germination, avoids over sprouting and allows air circulation for germination.

Rice Farming in Kenya – Sowing

Sowing  about 80 to 100 g/m² is normal practice. The seeds are broadcasted uniformly. The nursery bed should not be submerged  after sowing and a  seed rate of about 20kg/acre (50kg/ha) should be used.

Rice Farming in Kenya

Rice Farming in Kenya

Rice Farming in Kenya – Seed bed Preparation

Ploughing should be done at least 2 weeks before sowing and flooding. Puddle 1 week before sowing and
prepare raised nursery bed. The nursery bed should be drained the day before sowing to stabilize the surface of the soil.

Rice Farming in Kenya – Main Land Preparation

Under irrigation: Land preparation is carried out by flooding the fields to a depth of 10 cm and then
cultivating by use of tractor. The land should be tilled and immediately flooded at least 15 days before
transplanting or direct sowing. Under rain-fed situation: Land should be ploughed twice and harrowed once.

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Rice Farming in Kenya – Transplanting

Planting should be before the onset of long rains for rain fed rice. It is important to transplant from the
nursery as soon as the seedlings are big enough. Seedlings are said to be ready for transplanting after a
period of between 3 to 4 weeks depending on daylight, temperatures and the variety.

Rice Farming in Kenya – Spacing

Seedlings are spaced according to the tillering ability of a variety.

Rice Farming in Kenya – Seedling Rate

Two to three seedlings for  low tillering varieties.  one to two seedlings per hill are more suitable for good rooting and tillering. Higher seedling rates increase competition for the available nutrients, hence should be discouraged.

Rice Farming in Kenya – Planting Depth

Practice shallow planting of about 3 cm depth for vigorous initial growth and will result in good
rooting and tillering. Deep transplanting delays and reduces tillering resulting in a non-uniform crop
growth and ripening, resulting in yield losses. Seedlings should be transplanted in an upright position to allow correct tillering and rooting.

Rice Farming in Kenya – Main field water management

Water is applied to the rice field for the use of the rice plant and also for suppressing weed growth. For this reason, it is important to practice appropriate water management throughout the growing period of a rice crop.In lowland rice fields, water comes from rainfall and irrigation. Water is lost by transpiration, evaporation, seepage and percolation. Prevent water loss by:

  • Repairing levees to minimize seepage.
  • Removal of weeds to avoid competition with rice plants for water.
  • Increasing the height of levees to prevent surface run-off water.

Rice Farming in Kenya – Weed Control

Weeding is done manually by hand hoe at least 2 times.  Herbicides can also be used.

Rice Farming in Kenya – Pests and Diseases

Rice Diseases

Three Major Rice Diseases:

  • Blast
  • Rice yellow mottle virus  transmitted by beetles
  • Brown spot

Rice Pests

Main pests in rice include:-
• Stem Borers
• Leaf Miners
• Root Cutting Insects

Rice Farming in Kenya – Pests and Disease Control

  • Chemical
  • Cultural methods
  • Clean seed
  • Crop rotation
  • Field hygiene
  • Biological control

Rice Farming in Kenya – Harvesting

Time from planting to harvesting varies between 4 to 6 months. Rice is cut, swathed, threshed, winnowed and dried.

Rice Farming in Kenya – Storage

Rice should be stored in warehouses with good circulation of air, with no contamination of dust and

Rice Farming in Kenya – Video