The Kenyan government on Thursday decried huge losses incurred by rice farmers due to the move to import subsidized rice into the market.
The Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Dr Richard Lesiyampe said the problem was aggravated by lack of strong farmer organizations where such issues could be handled.
"I am aware of the challenges posed by an un-coordinated market which has resulted in exploitation of farmers by middlemen and unfair completion from highly subsidized imported rice," Lesiyampe said in Naivasha.
He said the government had come up with programs such as enhancing capacities for farmers to be able to undertake profitable farming businesses in the sector.
"A paradigm shift is required by the organizations in order to earn confidence by the members they serve and all stakeholders in the value chain to play their rightful role," Lesiyampe said.
The PS said the ministry had developed a rice seed strategy to guide and improve on seed productivity and supply.
"My ministry is working closer with the National Irrigation Board and the Coalition for Africa Rice Development Secretariat (CARD) and has developed the strategy that will be useful to farmers," he told the national rice stakeholder's forum where the revised national rice development strategy was also launched.
The PS said that the government through the National Irrigation Board (NIB) was committed to reviving collapsed irrigation schemes, adding that a total of 200 schemes were in operation.
Lesiyampe called on the use of technology as one way of improving yields while curbing excessive costs in rice cultivation.
"Development of rice sub sector cannot be attained without an equal advancement in technology transfer," he said.
CARD's General Coordinator Takanori Satoyama called for more involvement of private sector in rice growing.
He said that the coalition which was working in 23 countries including Kenya was committed to doubling rice production between 2008 and 2018.
"Kenya has high potential in rice production mainly in Mwea and Ahero areas but what is lacking is technological support to farmers," he said.