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State plans Sh4b rice production project in Coast’s expansive land

COAST
By - | October 25th 2012

By Patrick Beja  

KWALE, KENYA: Coast is set to become a major rice producer, Government officials said.

Coast Development Authority (CDA) on Wednesday announced plans to expand rice production at Vanga in Kwale County, at a cost of Sh4 billion.

CDA Managing Director James Mangi said they were planning to put 40,000 hectares under rice irrigation involving more than 3,000 farmers.

The expansion plan, he said, was expected to address food security in the region as Vanga could produce quality rice.

“The project to be funded by CDA and development partners will have a processing factory. This will transform rice farming into a commercial venture for local community,” he explained.

He spoke after Coast PC Samuel Kilele flagged off two buses carrying 100 farmers from Vanga heading to Mwea Rice Scheme for a study tour in preparation for the project in Kwale.

CDA has sponsored the tour. Mangi said the expansion project was at feasibility study stage, which takes nine months before it is implemented in three phases.

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Each farmer would have about 10 acres when the project is complete, he explained.

Kilele said Vanga had potential in rice production and farmers should engage in commercial farming.

“You have engaged in subsistence rice farming since time immemorial and now you should modernize agriculture,” Kilele said.

An acre of rice pad produces 50 bags of 70kg in Vanga, but CDA said this could be be higher with modern farming.

Msambweni MP Omar Zonga said he had lobbied Regional Development Minister Fred Gumo for Vanga farmers to be taken on an educational tour to improve rice production.

Food security

“The farmers should improve both production and marketing techniques to maximize returns,” Zonga said.

Currently, about 1,000 farmers in Vanga grow rice on about 350 acres.

Mangi said CDA spent Sh15 million to build water channel for the existing scheme but farmers have low acreage.

Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (Tarda) recently revived rice farming in Tana River County under the Economic Stimulus Programme.

Tarda also revived the processing factory at Gamba in Garsen constituency.

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