By Joyce Ojanji

To facilitate the access of hybrid rice seeds in Kenya, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and Agri All Africa (AaA) have signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

Through the partnership agreement, the two organizations will undertake capacity building for various stakeholders including seed companies, agro-dealers, and farmers in the hybrid rice value chain to improve the productivity of the crop in the country.

According to Dr. Canisius Kanangire, the Executive Director of AATF, the two organizations share a common concern for the welfare of resource-poor smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and recognize that they can work together to help the farmers improve their crop yields and income.

“This agreement will go a long way in helping Kenyan farmers to improve their yields using new and better crop varieties. We will collaborate in rice value chain activities to achieve rice self-sufficiency in Kenya,” Dr. Kanangire noted.

Over the years, rice production has been on a downward trend leaving farmers disillusioned. This has been attributed to infestation by pests and diseases, overuse of farmlands, low input application due to rising prices and reduced water flow and dry spells.

Priscilla Dimakatso, the Director of AaA in a statement stated that the farmers are going to get higher yields through the use of hybrid rice to make them more profitable and also contribute to Kenya’s food security objective.

Africa currently has a rice deficit of 16.7 million metric tons being met through imports worth over US$7 billion, which constitutes a huge loss of the continent’s foreign exchange reserves.