New hybrid rice variety ready for commercialization

Crop scientists have developed a new hybrid rice variety, which is now ready for commercialization in the country.

The variety ideal for small scale farmer holders has since gone through field trials and the technology developer is ready to engage in mass seed production.

The seed however is not recyclable according to the Chief Executive Officer for the Hybrid East Africa Limited (HEAL) John Man.

“Once a farmer does the harvesting of the crop, the produce is only fit for consumption while its seed is only used once and should never be recycled for planting ”Man cautions.

The CEO who has been in the seed breeding business for 16 years in the country said although the seed was costly to the ordinary Kenyan farmer, all efforts should be made to discard recycling for the purpose of planting another crop.

Cautioned the breeder “although this hybrid rice seed is costly by any standards for the farmers , they must go that extra mile and source for some soft loans in order to get the certified seed which upon harvesting would be serviced from the bumper harvest of the crop,’’.

Man was speaking to a group of pioneer farmers during a field day who have opted to go for the hybrid variety which is early maturing, high yielding, not subject to lodging, uniform quality grains and less flooding period.

The day-long field day was held at Kianjogu section of the Kanyekini Ward, within Kirinyaga Central Sub-County.

According to African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF) rice project manager Dr Kayode Sanni, the hybrid yields 24 bags more than the other varieties per acre, ie ( 30- 54).

He said the same translated to a higher margin profit brought about by the high yielding capacity of this hybrid variety.

Sanni said if only African farmers could adopt the variety and the perennial continental food insecurity could be significantly reduced and also improve their economic wellbeing.

A young farmer from the area Leah Wangari said she has planted her first crop of the hybrid seed she was provided with by a local NGO (ICOSEED)which is an associate of the AATF.

The crop, she added, was now at the maturity stage while the yields were promising a good harvest.

ICOSEED chairman Mugo Makanga who also attended the field day said through such new technological innovations and discoveries, farmers stand to gain significantly much as they produce the valuable grain for consumption.

The technology has been tried at Ahero in Kisumu and is now already at the Mwea Irrigation scheme where it is expected to increase production in the area threefold once the Thiba mega-dam gets operational this year.

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