Globally rice is one of the most important food crops in the fight against hunger. Rice is Kenya’s third staple food after maize and wheat. Rice consumption in Kenya is increasing at a rate of 12% annually, as compared with 4% for wheat and 1% for maize.  Its local production is estimated at between100, 000 and 120,000 metric tons per annum, while the consumption has increased to between 400,000 and 410,000 tons per annum.

Rice belongs to the Oryza sativa family and has two species; Oryza sativa (which is more widely used) and Oryza glaberrima (referred to as African rice). Locally, rice is referred to as Mchele (Kiswahili) and Mpunga (upland rice).

In Kenya, rice is grown in two main ecosystems, which are broadly defined on the basis water regimes; irrigated ecosystem (which account for 80%) and rain-fed ecosystem that accounts for 20%. It is mainly produced by large scale producers through irrigation schemes, cooperatives and small scale farmers under small farm holdings in Central (Mwea), Western (Bunyala), Coast (Tana Delta, Msambweni) and Nyanza (Ahero, West Kano, Migori and Kuria). There are about 23 rice cooperatives spread countrywide.

In Kenya the main rice varieties grown  through irrigation include; Sindano, and Basmati (Pishori), and the rain-fed varieties include Dourado Precoce and the NERICA (New Rice for Africa) varieties.

Rice thrives well in altitudes ranging from 0 - 1700m.a.s.l. rainfall ranging between 800 – 2,000mm per annum; soil; sandy loam to clay soils with a pH range of 4.5 - 7.0 and temperature of 200 - 37.70C.

Rice is cultivated primarily for the grain, which is a main staple food. Grains are quite nutritious when not polished. Common or starchy types are used in various dishes, cakes, soups, pastries, breakfast foods,Rice hulls are sometimes used in the production of purified alpha cellulose and furfural (an industrial chemical derived from a variety of agricultural by-products, and commonly used as a solvent). Rice straw is used as roofing and packing material, feed, fertilizer, and fuel.

Common varieties in Kenya include: "Sindano", highly susceptible to Rice Yellow Mottle Virus (RYMV) and "Basmati 217" highly susceptible to blast that have been grown since the 1960s. Farmers are adviced to source for various planting materials from registered seed producers and distributors.

Rice full pdf

The main types of  inputs for rice farming include; seed/seedlings, fertilizers, fungicides and pesticides/machinery and equipment 

Seeds; Common varieties in Kenya includes "Sindano", highly susceptible to Rice Yellow Mottle Virus (RYMV) and "Basmati 217" highly susceptible to blast.Registered seed producers and distributors include; Breeders i.e.  KARLO-Kibos, KARLO- Mwea, MIAD;  Baobab Company in Coast, Seed merchants, Certified Seed Companies i.e. Kenya Seed Company.

Fertilizers; Irrigated system rice: 100kg/ha of DAP, Top dressing 100kg/ha CAN for black cotton soil or 100 -180kg/ha SA depending on soil conditions at 12-14 days after sowing. Rain fed: Basal 100kg/ha DAP, Top dressing – 90 kg/ha CAN.

Fungicides and pestcides; The most serious pests of rice are; Rice-sucking bugs, stink bugs (Aspavia spp, Nezera viridula), and Alydid bugs (Mirperus spp.and Riptortus spp) ,The African gall midge (Orseolia oryzivora), Storage pests (Sitophilus oryzae, Rhyzopertha dominica, Rice root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne graminicola), White tip nematode (Aphelenchoides besseyi).

Machinery and Equipment; the type and size of machine and equipment used in rice along the value chain will depend on the level of production; for small and medium scale  producers use sickles, rice mill and threshers; for the cooperatives they use combine harvesters, threshers and warehouses and millers uses combine harvester and big warehouses.


About 95% Rice production in Kenya is grown under irrigation in paddy schemes managed by the National Irrigation Board (NIB). The remaining five per cent is rain fed. 
The production involves various steps including; seedling production, sowing, seedbed preparation, main land preparation, transplanting, main field water management, weeding, pest and disease control, husbandly and harvesting, threshing, winnowing, drying, storage.


Aggregation of rice involves bulking of paddy rice by cooperatives societies, small scale farmers groups and rice millers for economies of scale during marketing or processing.

Processing of rice involves milling, grading and packaging. Milling of paddy rice is done by commercial rice millers.

Grading of  paddy rice is normally done during processing using specialized equipment. Rice seed and milled rice is packaged in appropriate materials based on the market demand. The type and quality of the packaging material will depend on the processing and packaging equipment being used, plus the targeted customers.

Rice by-products includes; rice straw that is used for roofing, packaging material, animal feed (hay); and rice husk used as cooking fuel.


There are various rice marketing channels that include; Government agencies National Irrigation Board (NIB), National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) and Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA), marketing cooperatives, private companies and medium and small traders. The packed rice is sold in supermarkets and local shops, whereas the un-packed rice is sold in open markets and local shops. The major market of rice produced in Kenya is for local consumption, with a major production gap that leads to  importation to enhance food security.

The country has a net deficit of nearly 300,000 tons, that is imported annually to meet the national demand.


The policy regulations and guidelines in rice production, grading and marketing in Kenya are under: Crop Act 2013; rice is scheduled crop under the Act which  seek to facilitate  marketing  and  distribution  of  scheduled  crops  through monitoring  and  dissemination  of  market  information. These include; identification of the local supply-demand situation, domestic market matching and overseas market intelligence and promotion activities.

National Rice Development Strategy (2008-2018). The Strategy sets the vision, mission, objectives and strategies that State Department of Agriculture will pursue in ten years with the aim of facilitating growth and development of the rice sub-sector. 


Some of the key sevice providers along the rice value chain include;

Institution Roles Contacts
Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock & Fisheries (State Department of Agriculture) Extension advisory services, seed variety evaluation,seed certification and release P. O. Box 34188 00100 Nairobi.

(254) 20-2718870


Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Orghanization (KALRO) Seed variety development, variety evaluation, foundation seed development, seed certification & registration, breeder's seed development and technology development P. O. Box 57811 00200 Nairobi

(254) 20-4183720


National Irrigation Board (NIB) Seed variety development, variety evaluation, foundation seed development, seed certification and registration and breeder's seed development P. O. Box 30372 00100 Niarobi



Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) Foundation seed development, seed certification & registraion P. O. Box 49592 00100 Nairobi



Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) Enforce compliance of rice seed standards and quality assurance P. O. Box 49592 00100 Nairobi



Mwea Rice Mills Ltd Processing, grading and packaging P. O. Box 80 10303 Wanguru


Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) Processing, grading and packaging P. O. Box 1516 40100 Kisumu



Western Kenya Rice Mills Processing, grading and packaging (254)20-2711380


Nice Rice Mills Processing, grading, packaging and marketing (254)722161613
Mwea Rice Growers Multi-purpose Cooperative Society Bulking and marketing of rice and rice products P. O. Box 38 10303 Wanguru



Bunyala Rice Multi-purpose Cooperative Society Bulking and marketing rice and rice products (254)20-2711380


Jomo Kenyatta University of Technology (JKUAT) Technology development, seed variety development and evaluation P. O. Box 62000 00200 Nairobi



Maseno University Technology development, seed variety development and evaluation P. O. Box 3275 40100 Kisumu



Baobab Farm Ltd Seed variety development & evaluation, foundation seed development, seed certification and registration, breeder's seed development P. O. Box 81995 80100 Mombasa