Farmers in Thiba, Mwea were on Thursday, 14th November treated to a training by stakeholders in the rice sector. Led by Kenya plant Health inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) who has the mandate in seed quality assurance, stakeholders organized a field day at Thiba to train farmers on the benefits of using certified seeds to establish their crops for higher yields and better profits.

The other stakeholders collaborating with KEPHIS were other government agencies KALRO Mwea and NIB, Mwea rice growers’ cooperative multipurpose society (MRGM) and agrochemical companies Bayer and Syngenta.

With over 300 farmers in present, the farmers’ field day was well attended. Farmer’s representatives who spoke during the event include the farmer who hosted the field day Mr. Geoffrey Githinji, and the MRGM chairman Mr. Joseph Gathimba. The noted that rice had performed very well this year and a bumper harvest is expected. They attributed the good yields to the availability of adequate irrigation water due to the high rainfall experienced last year. They however requested the Government to increase the water provided to the scheme. They also requested provision of free or subsidized TSP, MOP and SA fertilizers which are used in rice production. They however noted that there are new diseases that are threatening their crop such as Blast and Bakanae disease which were observed in the ratoon crop this year. Farmers also requested the NIB to improve the roads in the scheme for ease of movement of produce and inputs.
The area Assistant County Commissioner Mr. Mbae noted that farmers in the area are very hardworking and are able to produce rice on up to 26,000 acres. He said that Pishori is the farmer’s cash crop and it fetches Mwea more than 6 billion shillings every year. He said that with more government support Farmers can do more. NIB, Manager, Mr. Vincent Kipngetich appreciated the work of farmers and said that the irrigation board would continue to help farmers to achieve higher yields by providing high quality certifying seeds at MIAD station and improving the infrastructure of the irrigation scheme.

The General Manager, Seed Quality assurance Mr. Simeon Kibet thanked farmers for turning up in large numbers for the field day. He said that KEPHIS is concerned that many farmers are recycling their own rice grains as seed instead of purchasing certified seeds. He said that the high production in Mr. Githinji’s farm is evident of the benefits of using certified seed. He urged farmers to consider the profits they can get from using certified seed instead of concentrating too much on the cost of certified seeds. He reported that KEPHIS has now released several hybrid rice varieties which require only six kilograms (6Kg) to plant one acre due to the wider space requirement. He said the hybrid seeds are higher yielding which can yield as much as 60 bags per acre.
The chief guest at the farmers’ field day was the PS Agriculture and Research Prof. Hamadi Boga. He was represented by the Administrator Secretary in the ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation Mr. Hamasa Kellow who promised to look in the farmers request for subsidized fertilizers used in rice farming namely TSP, MOP and SA. He said the government is keenly studying ways of achieving sufficiency in rice production with an aim of producing all the rice consumed locally by 2030. He said the government aims to achieve sufficiency by increasing the area under irrigation producing rice, increasing production per acre and promoting production of rain-fed NERICA varieties. He also said that the government is focusing on mechanization of the rice production process.
In the speech read on his behalf, the PS Agriculture and Research noted that rice is one of the crops selected to boost food security in the country in support of the president’s big four agenda for the country. He said the country was still importing a lot of rice due to the gap in production. He urged farmers to adopt the use of certified seeds to fight seed borne diseases and increase their yields. He commended KEPHIS and all other stakeholders for coming together to advise the farmers. The PS also noted that KEPHIS were coming up with new regulations to control the spread of new diseases. He urged farmers to support the new regulations in order to combat emerging diseases in rice production. He appreciated the hard work shown by farmers at Mwea leadind to high production.

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