The National Irrigation Authority (NIA) has urged farmers in the Western Kenya Schemes (WKS) to embrace double-cropping to increase rice production and boost the realization of food security in the country.
WKS Manager Kennedy Ouma said that the farmers have been encouraged to undertake the exercise immediately after harvesting rice and plant other crops.
He explained that in the Schemes 16,000 acres have been put under rice production while Ahero Irrigation Scheme has 2,200 acres, West Kano Irrigation with 2,300 acres and South West Kano with 4,500 acres.
“If we are able to double crop, we will realize 32,000 acres and this will push our rice production to 80,000 metric tonnes per year from the current 39,000 metric tonnes,” he said.
Ouma said that in the previous planting season, farmers only realized about 32,000 metric tonnes of paddy rice due to invasion from Quelea birds.
“We are hoping that the measures we have put in place through collaboration with the county government and department of crop protection to control the birds will increase production this season,” he said.
The Manager said that NIA was currently sensitizing farmers on new technology as part of interventions put in place to enhance rice production.
Other measures include proper maintenance of drainage systems in the schemes which are prone to flooding during heavy rains and the authority has already procured an excavator to de-silt collector drains and link canals.
“Unless we put up mitigation measures, farmers may lose their crops in case of heavy rains and that is why we are preparing early enough,” Ouma said.
Apart from de-siltation, Ouma said that NIA is in the process of procuring a new outlet pump at West Kano Irrigation scheme for evacuation of water during floods.
The Manager also observed that from areas that have harvested this season, farmers have recorded between 2.8 tonnes to 3 tonnes per acre compared to 2.2 tonnes to 2.5 tonnes per acre last season, which he said was a significant increase in production.
By Fredrick Odiero
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