Price of rice in Mwea drops 21 per cent on improved production
The price of rice in Mwea Irrigation Scheme has dropped 21 per cent due to improved production.
The cost of a kilo of the commodity at the scheme has fallen from Sh170 in May last year to Sh140. However, the drop is relatively insignificant given that production has almost tripled from 25,369 tonnes in the 2016/2017 season to 75,094 tonnes in the 2017/2018 crop year. Rice production in the previous season was substantially affected by drought and increased irrigation in upstream River Thiba which serves 80 per cent of Mwea’s irrigated area.
“There was a change in irrigation water distribution in the current season resulting in a drastic improvement in rice productivity, especially in the tail end units of the scheme,” said the National Irrigation Board (NIB), which manages the scheme.
Shortage of rice in the country last year saw the price hit a high of Sh200 per kilo at the scheme. The cost was even higher in shops with a kilo retailing at over Sh250.
NIB said there was a slight improvement in river flow during the peak irrigation periods of October, November and December for the main crop and January and February for the ratoon crop.
The price of paddy (unprocessed rice) from the current crop is Sh70 per kilo, with farmers at the expansive scheme estimated to earn Sh5.4 billion from the produce.
The volume of rice imports last year rose to 353,082 tonnes from 261,819 in the same period in 2016, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
Mwea scheme accounts for 80 per cent of Kenya’s rice production and plays a major role in the supply of the grain in a country that relies on imports to bridge deficits.
Rice consumption has been growing 10 per cent yearly and now stands at 400,000 tonnes, according to State data.