Rice transplanting machine to increase yield – Kenya News Agency
Rice farmers in Tana River County hope to reap good profits from the harvest after the introduction of a rice transplanting machine.
The Tana River is synonymous with drought and flooding, but the introduction of the rice transplanting machine is seen by farmers as a game changer with the ongoing drought ravaging parts of the Tana River.
KiliMOL, in partnership with the National Irrigation Authority, organized a two-day demonstration of machines to farmers in the Hola and Bura irrigation programs on the rice transplanter and rice milling machines.
Mechanization of rice production in the Tana River will support the government’s effort to achieve food security.
Rice is the third staple crop after maize and wheat in Kenya. The government aspires to increase rice production to 1.3 million metric tons by 2030 in an effort to be self-sufficient and reduce imports.
Rice farmers welcomed the introduction of the new machines, saying they will increase rice production tenfold and save costs. They appealed to the Tana River County government to buy the machines for the small farmers.
“We used to plant corn, but we opted for rice production because it brings in more. Our main challenge was the cost of transplanting which is 13,000 Sh per acre using the conventional method, ” said Natasha Munya, a rice farmer in the Bura Irrigation Program.
Rice farmer Rose Wairimu said the rice has a ready-to-buy market from the National Cereals and Produce Board and businessmen from Mwea throng Bura during harvest seasons.
Harun Kimathi, project manager, KiliMol, said they are targeting smallholder farmers with the new small and compact machines to ensure that the mechanization of agriculture has been improved.
“We made a demonstration in Kirinyaga County, where rice cultivation is quite extensive. We decided to bring the technology to the Tana River since rice cultivation is gaining momentum, ” Kimathi said.
The rice transplanting machine takes 45 minutes per acre to transplant the seedlings from the nursery. The machine takes the roots of the seedlings directly from the tray. Using trays as nurseries reduced germination time from 21 to 14 days, thus saving on transplant shock.
The Bura Irrigation Program was primarily known for producing cotton as the main cash crop until the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) proposed the komboka rice variety resistant to drought.
Most farmers have switched from other crops to rice cultivation which they harvested in a short time and which is in great demand. The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) buys at Sh40 per kilogram and payment takes less than 24 hours.
“We went through a change, right now there are 2,500 acres of cropland. Rice is taking over in Bura, ” said Peter Orua, Acting Director of the Bura Irrigation Program.
Currently, 1,400 acres are cultivated in rice, according to the interim director, they aim for 2,500 acres in rice production by the end of October, excluding other crops.
The Bura Irrigation System has a developed area of 12,000 acres with the potential for expansion to 25,000 acres once the 7.35 billion shillings gravity irrigation project is completed.
The Komboka variety of rice is semi-aromatic, has long, thin grains and a soft cooking texture. The plant is 110-115 cm tall, does not house and matures in three to four months (110).
By Sadik Hassan