IRRI in Kenya
Since its introduction in 1907 in Kenya, rice has become the third most important cereal crop after maize and wheat. Due to the progressive change in eating habits of Kenyans, particularly in more urban areas, the annual consumption of rice is increasing at a rate of over 12% in the country. Moreover, the national rice consumption is estimated at 949,000 metric tons compared to an annual production of 180,000. With a projected population growth rate of 2.7% per year, the estimated annual national need can reach up to 1,290,000 tons by 2030 (National Rice Development Strategy-2, 2019-2030).IRRI joins Kenya in its efforts to improve farmers’ income and consumers’ food and nutrition security through sustainable rice production, marketing, and value addition. In 2012, IRRI started its research activities in Kenya after signing an agreement with KARI, now the Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organisation (KALRO). These activities build on the initiatives of the IRRI Eastern and Southern Africa regional program which started in 2006. Furthermore, to intensify research and development of rice agri-food systems and address arising issues brought by climate change and dwindling resources, IRRI established its regional office for Africa in Nairobi.
Key achievements in Kenya
Development of improved rice varieties
Through programs like the Stress Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA), and more recently the Accelerated Genetic Gain in Rice (AGGRi) Alliance, and with national and international partners like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, IRRI, together with national partners develops new breeding products for lowland rice ecologies and their major market segments, with good grain quality and tolerance to major biotic and abiotic stresses. Furthermore, through advanced rice research, IRRI characterizes important rice pathogens and their interaction with rice lines in Kenya in order to provide farmers with disease management advice.
Kenya and IRRI support the establishment and strengthening of new and existing multi-stakeholder platforms to enhance the dissemination and adoption of improved rice varieties and modern production technologies, and to enhance market access and farmers income. The strong partnership with the government institutions, non-government organizations, CG centers, specially with AfricaRice, and with donors and development agencies is expected to boost awareness of modern technologies and boost local production of rice and other crops in the rice-based systems, both in rainfed and irrigated lowland ecologies.
Improving the capacity of the rice sector
In close partnership with the national program, IRRI continues to conduct participatory research for evaluation of new varieties and modern production technologies to boost productivity and enhance income of rice farmers in irrigated and rainfed ecosystems. Through degree and non-degree training programs, national research extension staff, farmers, and university researchers gain knowledge of best practices and skills to operate related technologies.
Collaboration with government institutions and academia
IRRI collaborates with Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock Fisheries and Co-Operatives, Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO), National Irrigation Authority (NIA), University of Nairobi (UoN), and University of Eldoret (UoE) to implement in-country rice research and development initiatives.