Kenya faced with shortage of rice as floods destroy irrigation scheme


Heavy rains have caused extensive damage of canals that supply water to the Mwea Irrigation Scheme, and is also likely to cause delay in planting of the crop. This is after the main canal from Nyamindi River, which supplies water to the larger section of the scheme, was washed away.

The planting season, which was supposed to start next month, is, therefore, likely to delay because farmers cannot prepare land without water. Peter Karanja, a farmer from Karaba, said all the fields were lying fallow because land preparation was done using rotavators, which only work in flooded fields.

“Had there been water to flood the fields in April, we would have now been through with rotavation to give way for seedbed preparations next month and then start transplanting the seedlings in July,” Mr Karanja said. Behind schedule Avoid fake news! Subscribe to the Standard SMS service and receive factual, verified breaking news as it happens. Text the word 'NEWS' to 22840 The scheme’s Water Users Association Vice-Chairman Peter Chege said with land preparation already one month behind schedule – and with about Sh200 million for repairs of the damaged infrastructure not available – farmers should expect a major shortfall in production.

The National Irrigation Board (NIB) Scheme Manager Innocent Ariemba said if planting does not take place in July, the crop would not give maximum yield due to a change in climate. “By September/October, the warm climate which prevails is ideal for the rice crop to flower. When this does not happen due to late planting, the yields will certainly fall significantly below what the scheme produces.” Ariemba said in a normal season, the expansive scheme produces an average of 80,000 metric tons of paddy rice. He warned that a national rice shortage was inevitable following the Quelea bird invasion in the Ahero scheme, which produces about 10 per cent of the country’s rice.

“Since the national rice consumption stands at about 500,000 metric tons annually – with the country producing just about 100,000 metric tons, and which will not be realised this time round – consumers will have to do with the imported commodity,” said Ariemba.


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