More than 250 varieties of hybrid rice are set to be launched in Kenya after a successful trial in Western Kenya for the last two years.
The seeds, which were developed by Baobab Breeding Systems Ltd (BBSL) and Hybrids East Africa Limited (HEAL) will be commercialised by Afritec Seed Company Ltd who are now the beneficiary of product development contracts with BBSL and HEAL.
“Our aim is to take hybrid rice technology from research farms of HEAL and put it into the hands of small farmers around Eastern Africa,” said John Mann, Afritec Managing Director.
According to Mann, farmers who are the primary beneficiaries should expect to earn an additional Sh9,500 per acre value of hybrid rice seed planted.
While hybrid rice has been used in China, US and Asia for many years, Afritec will market the very first hybrids developed in sub-Saharan Africa, seeds bred specially for needs of African farmers.
“Our investment have been funded by FoodTrade ESA and together we will work with thousands of smallholder farmers in East Africa to not only up skill them with adequate training on improved technologies but also with assistance in purchasing seeds, which farmer can pay back post- harvest,” he said.
He said that the current 300 demo farms, which are in western parts of Kenya —Kisumu, Migori and Kuria — have shown positive returns. The first product development cycle is complete and the technology is ready for deployment to replace the high-yielding varieties, which are already in market.
“We have found that the greatest proof point for potential farmers is seeing the outcomes of hybrid rice growing which can take as little as three months either irrigated or rain-fed,” Mann added.
Source: Milliam Murigi, Mediamax Network