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. About 95 percent of rice in Kenya is grown under irrigation in paddy schemes managed by the National Irrigation Board (NIB). The remaining five percent 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 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 white tip disease.
- Seed soaking. In order to supply the required moisture for germination, shorten the 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 – Seedbed Preparation
Plowing should be done at least 2 weeks before sowing and flooding. Puddle 1 week before sowing and prepare a 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 the use of a 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 plowed twice and harrowed once.
Rice Farming in Kenya – Transplanting
Planting should be before the onset of long rains for rainfed 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 seeding 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 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 – Pests and Diseases
Three Major Rice Diseases:
- Rice yellow mottle virus transmitted by beetles
- Brown spot
Main pests in rice include:-
• Stem Borers
• Leaf Miners
• Root Cutting Insects
Rice Farming in Kenya – Pests and Disease Control
- Cultural methods
- Clean seed
- Crop rotation
- Field hygiene
- Biological control
Rice Farming in Kenya – Harvesting
Time from planting to harvest 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 water.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Rice Farming in Kenya
Where is rice grown in Kenya?
In Kenya rice is mainly produced by small-scale farmers in Central (Mwea), Western (Bunyala), Coast (Tana delta, Msambweni) and Nyanza provinces (Ahero, West Kano, Migori and Kuria). Over 300,000 rice farmers provide labor and also earn their livelihood out of the crop’s production.
What farming methods are used to grow rice?
The rice plant is grown in two ways. They are grown either by direct seeding or by transplanting. Whichever system you use, you should treat the seeds by fungicide/insecticide before sowing. Direct Sowing: Indirect seeding system, you have to broadcast dry seed or pre-germinated seeds by hand or by using a machine.
How rice is cultivated information?
Rice is also grown through irrigation in those areas that receive comparatively less rainfall. Rice is the staple food of the eastern and southern parts of India. The seeds are transplanted by hand and then through proper irrigation, the seeds are cultivated. Rice grows on a variety of soils like silts, loams, and gravels.
How long does it take to grow rice?
It takes rice plants four to five months to reach maturity. The rice grows rapidly, ultimately reaching a height of three feet. By September, the grain heads are mature and ready to be harvested. On average, each acre will yield more than 8,000 pounds of rice.
How many times can you harvest rice in a year?
It’s common to harvest rice three times a year, and places like Bali, Indonesia with ideal conditions can actually harvest 4-5 times a year.