Kenya’s paddy-grown rice in the Mwea plains has enjoyed the market monotony for its aroma and quality; unscrupulous businesspersons debase it and sell to unsuspecting consumers.
The adulterated quality rice is sprayed with a chemical property that brings out the aroma. However, the scent fades after washing, compared to the original rice that maintains its pleasant smell after cooking.
The undoing begins at the expansive Mwea Irrigation Scheme, which produces 76 percent of paddy in Kenya, where cartels buy the high-grade Pishori, mix it with low-quality products from Asia, and pass it to unsuspecting buyers.
Farmers at the scheme are now worried since the unbranded cheap imports have taken a toll on locally produced rice.
How do you find the right aromatic rice?
“To tell pure Pishori rice, aroma buyers should lookout for a nice-looking slender grain. The number of broken grains should be minimal or zero. It should also be polished white rice,” said Vincent Koskei, a manager at Mwea Irrigation Agriculture Development.
You could tell it is Mwea rice from the whiff it sent to the air from a distance, but that is no longer the case. What was uniquely our brand and quality rice is now compromised,” he said
However today, it is hard to get pure packaged Pishori rice from Mwea, which was, for years, the most successful irrigation scheme in the country.
The prices also differ. For example, while a kilo of Mwea Pishori rice goes for between Sh130 and Sh140, the imported rice is selling at Sh80 for the same quantity.
The import guidelines have been blamed for the plight of denying local farmers fair play in the market.
The consumers have also contributed in part because Kenyans want to save money in these harsh economic times. They are often choosing imports over our locally grown rice.
Most consumers cannot tell the difference between pure Pishori and adulterated until it is cooked, deceitful traders are now taking advantage of that culinary illiteracy.
Consumers come for Mwea rice for the aroma that can be smelt from the packet, but they are finding it hard to tell the real ones from the blend,” said Ms. Mary Mumbi, a trader at Ngurabani center in Mwea constituency.
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