Concern expressed over increased cheap rice imports

Agriculture Principal Secretary (PS), Dr. Richard Lesiyampe has assured rice farmers in the country of the government’s programme to counter cheap importations of the product into the country.

Dr. Lesiyampe expressed concern over the imports which he said were killing the local rice sector.

He said the programme involves enhancement of capacities to farmers to enable them undertake profitable farming businesses.

The PS was responding to complaints by farmers across the country over huge losses incurred because of the importation of cheap rice into the local market.

Dr. Lesiyampe made the remarks on Tuesday evening during the closing ceremony of the National Rice stakeholder’s forum at the Naivasha Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) center where the revised national rice development strategy was also launched.

The PS acknowledged that the country was facing a challenge of uncoordinated market resulting to exploitation of farmers by middlemen through unfair competition from the imported rice.

The problem, he added, was further aggravated by lack of strong farmer cooperative organizations where such issues could be handled.

He consequently challenged the stakeholders in the value chain to play their roles to help in cushioning the farmers from further losses.

Dr. Lesiyampe added that the ministry was working closely with the National Irrigation Board (NIB) and the Coalition for Africa Rice Development (CARD) secretariat to develop a rice seed strategy to guide on the improvement of seed productivity and supply to farmers.

CARD General coordinator, Takanori Satoyama called for more involvement of private sector in the rice growing.

The Coordinator said the coalition which works in 23 countries was committed to doubling rice production by 2018 as the country has high potential in the crop production mainly in Mwea and Ahero areas but lacks technological support.

SOURCE: Kenya News Agency