Kenyan farmers to benefit from newly launched high yielding rice variety

KENYA – The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) has introduced a new rice variety that has desirable attributes to both consumers and producers.

The new variety known as Komboka was established in partnership with International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) after years of collaborative research, indicated KALRO in a social media post.

Being an improved innovation, the variety is said to more than double rice production, yielding 6.5 to 7.0 tons per ha in comparison to Basmati rice with 2.5 to 3 tons per ha.

In addition, Komboka is sustainably grown as it requires less water making it suitable for both irrigated and rain fed lowland ecologies.

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To this end, it can be grown in different parts of the country such as Mwea, Ahero, Taveta, Kilifi, Kwale, Bura, Hola, Bunyala, West Kano, Lower Kuja, Busia, Alupe and any other rice growing area in Kenya.

The variety also contributes to maximum grain yield courtesy of its 110-115cm hight, eliminating lodging and matures in three and half to four months (110-120 days).

The research organization further assures farmers that the rice is highly marketable as it is semi-aromatic, has long slender grains and soft cooking texture.

The new variety known as Komboka was established in partnership with International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

According to a recent report by USDA, Kenya’s rice production in Market Year 2019/2020 was 159,000 Metric Tones (MT). Local production can only meet about 15% of demand and the resultant deficit is offset by imports by private traders.

During the period under review, the country imported 650,000 MT of rice to meet local consumption which reached 700,000 MT.

The key countries that export rice to Kenya are Thailand, India, and South Korea with modest imports from neighboring Uganda and South Sudan.

Other research by KALRO

KALRO mandated to co-ordinate and regulate research in crops, livestock, genetic resources and biotechnology in Kenya, the organization is currently undertaking National Performance Trials of Bt Maize in 6 different ecological zones in Kenya.

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National Performance Trials (NPTs) are trials designed to test new plant varieties for performance, i.e. agronomic potential and adaptability compared to varieties currently in the market.

KALRO also recently developed two maize varieties that are resistant to the viral Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN) disease and fall army worm.

Further to that, the organization entered into a contractual partnership with Kevian, one of the leading fruit juice producers in Kenya to produce high yielding potato seed varieties to meet growing demand.

KARLO has licensed the Thika-based firm to commercialise five of its hybrid potato seeds on a 15-year contract to boost production of the right variety required by multinational franchises for making French fries, who have relied on imports to meet their customer needs.

The partnership targeting to benefit 50,000 farmers will see Kevian, the makers of Afia and Pick N Peel juices, pay KARLO royalties at a rate of 2.5 percent of their total annual sales from the potatoes.

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