Technology pushes up rice production in Migori paddy fields

Casual laborers transplant rice seeds at Sagama lower Kuja Irrigation scheme in Nyatike Sub-County Migori County (Photo by Caleb Kingwara, Standard)

The National Irrigation Board (NIB) has mooted plans to increase rice production among Nyatike small-holder farmers in partnership with Migori County government. This will see the farmers produce more rice for domestic consumption and for sale.

NIB manager for the Lower Kuja Irrigation Scheme Nesline Ogwe underscored the need to increase rice production in the area by 50 percent by 2030 to meet future demand and boost food security.

''This is why we are trying to do all we can in partnerships with the County government and line agriculture organizations to boost rice production and food security in the County,'' Ogwe told Standard.

Currently, rice farmers are trained on new farming techniques, which unlike conventional rice farming, does not require flooding paddy fields with water or huge financial outlays but simple ways.

The farmers are trained to rely on planting rice in a grid where every seed is placed 25 cm apart rather than the traditional technique of random sowing.

This means there is more room for each plant to develop its root system which allows easier weeding.

Ogwe explained they heavily rely on new forms of technology and innovation that have played a key role in achieving improved rice production in the Nyatike schemes.

According to the County Executive Committee member in charge of Agriculture Valentine Ogongo, since the county began partnering with different organizations, rice production has doubled.

''Thousands of fish and cereal farmers have today ventured into large scale rice production and yields have doubled to 45 sacks per acre,'' said Ogongo. Each sack is about 80 kilograms.

Ken Okong'o, a rice farmer said:'' We started with little harvests about 5-10 sacks in an acre. Now we are harvesting more. we are getting up to 40 sacks in the same plot." He urged farmers to grow rice.