Steep decline in local production, expensive imports and piling pressure on households already grappling with the high cost of living has increase rice prices in Kenya.
Surveys indicate that a kilogramme of rice has increased by an average of Sh30 in the past three weeks to trade at between Sh230 and Sh210, up from Sh160 in January.
“The prices will remain high until mid-November when we expect a new crop in the market,” said Innocent Ariemba, a manager at Mwea Irrigation Scheme.
The value of rice imports increased to Sh15.89 billion in the six months to June, up from Sh6.6 billion in the same period last year.
Meanwhile the volume of imported rice rose to 353,082 tonnes from 261,819 tonnes in the same period last year, a pointer that a unit cost of imported grain increased by more than 50 per cent.
Kenya produces 150,000 tonnes of rice in a year creating a deficit of 250,000 that is met through imports from world’s major producers.
Rice consumption has been growing every year by 10 per cent and now it stands at 400,000 tonnes annually, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
Mwea Irrigation Scheme, which accounts for 80 per cent of Kenya’s rice production has been severely hit by drought.