Hopes to increase rice production to promote food security in Kenya are brighter following a promising study initiated by the University three years ago. The study has led researchers at JKUAT to develop high yielding and disease resistant varieties of the cereal that is now gaining importance as a major food crop in the country.
The multidisciplinary research project that has brought together researchers from different disciplines mainly from the Departments of Food Science, Horticulture, Botany, and Biomechanical and Environmental engineering has since attracted new local and international collaborators including National Irrigation Board, National Council for Science and Technology, JICA and two leading Universities in Japan namely Okayama and Nagoya respectively.
Speaking at JKUAT on Tuesday June 19 2012, during the official launch of JKUAT Rice Experimental Field to be used for rice research at the University, Vice Chancellor Prof. Mabel Imbuga welcomed the considerable progress that the researchers had so far recorded saying it would go along way in addressing the country’s food security concerns. Prof. Imbuga who was accompanied by her Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Research, Production and Extension, Prof. Esther Kahangi told lead scientists under the project to ensure they published as well as ‘patent any products from the study’.
Among the areas to receive attention under the project include; rice breeding aimed at increasing rice yields and disease resistance, value addition and nutrient management aimed at developing nutrient protocols for different rice growing regions in Kenya. The scientist too, will use the new experimental field to conduct studies intended to isolate characterize microorganisms with the ability to fix nitrogen, phosphorous as well as produce growth promoters crucial to rice growth and development.