Ensuring quality seed supply of improved rice varieties for West Kenya smallholder farmers

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KIBOS, KENYA, 2 August 2023 — In its continued efforts to strengthen the rice sector in Kenya, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) donated a seed dresser to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO). This is considered a game-changing initiative that has the potential not only to boost quality seed supply but also trigger the overall growth of the rice value chain in western Kenya. The turnover event was attended by IRRI scientists Dr. Sankalp Bhosale, Deputy Head of Rice Breeding Innovations.

Capacity building on quality seed production and establishment of Private-Public-Partnerships (PPPs) to enhance the scale of quality seed is among the crucial elements of the model which IRRI has provided immense support. The seed dresser is expected to increase the capacity of KALRO, the custodian of breeder seed of the rice varieties jointly released with IRRI and hence a key party in recent PPPs, to produce both early generation (breeder and foundation) seed and certified seed to be distributed to farmers by seed companies, farmers’ cooperatives, and women groups.

Speaking during the event, Dr. Ajay Panchbhai, the Regional Breeding and Seed Systems Lead for Africa, mentioned “The huge import of rice to Africa is a challenge to all stakeholders to work together to increase production and that robust technologies would play a crucial role to achieve rice self-sufficiency. This can be possible through adoption of high-yielding improved rice varieties coupled with the use of quality seed”.

The Kenyan government highly considers the western region as the new frontier for rice production owing to the availability of vast land suitable for rice production and the abundance of water resources for irrigation. Despite the region being home to more than ten irrigation schemes such as Ahero, Westkano, Southwest Kano,…

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