KENYA – The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has teamed up with industry stakeholders and researchers to curb adulteration of Kenya’s basmati rice using advanced technologies.

KEBS Managing Director Bernard Njiraini affirmed his commitment to fostering cooperation among farmers, suppliers, researchers, and other government agencies to surmount the threat to Kenya’s thriving basmati rice industry.

Basmati rice is a premium variety of rice cultivated in India and Pakistan and is universally known for its long grain size, fluffy texture, and unique inherent aroma and flavour.

As of 2019, India accounted for 65% of the international trade in basmati rice, while Pakistan accounted for the remaining 35%.

Njiraini revealed KEBS is working with regional universities and international research organizations to develop technology and systems to avert the menace while addressing a session of rice stakeholders in Nairobi.

“These cutting-edge approaches will empower consumers to verify the authenticity and quality of the basmati rice they purchase, fostering trust and driving demand for genuine, unadulterated grain,” he stated.

Njiru emphasized the collective responsibility of all stakeholders in maintaining the integrity of Kenya’s basmati rice industry.

Let us work together to preserve the enchanting aroma and unparalleled quality of our basmati rice, securing the livelihoods of our farmers and the food security of our nation for generations to come,” he stated.

Evans Nyaboga, a Senior Lecturer in the University of Nairobi’s Department of Biochemistry, emphasized the critical relevance of cutting-edge scientific techniques in combating rice adulteration and counterfeiting.

“Rice is the most important grain for human nutrition and caloric intake worldwide, as well as a major staple food in Kenya. In order to prevent adulteration, it’s essential to accurately and quickly determine the rice variety,” said Nyamboga.

He echoed Njiraini’s thoughts stating that Kenya’s basmati rice industry stands to overcome the challenges it faces through the combined efforts of industry stakeholders, researchers, and government agencies.

Sheila Kemboi, a laboratory analyst, highlighted the advanced methods developed to detect and quantify Basmati rice adulteration.

Whereas a DNA-based method offers a high throughput solution for rice sector professionals and government agencies, a bio-chemical method allows standards bodies like KEBS to determine exact blending percentages as per East African and Kenyan Standard KS2086-2009 and KS2087-2009 ratios.

“By harnessing the power of science and technology, we can safeguard the genetic diversity of Basmati rice genotypes commonly grown in Kenya, paving the way for the development of high-yielding, high-quality, and aromatic varieties that will elevate the economic well-being of our farmers and strengthen our nation’s food security,” Kemboi asserted.

KEBS also disclosed that it is launching educational programs to inform farmers and suppliers about the long-term effects of adulterating basmati rice.

To ensure that Kenyan farmers and suppliers prosper in a cutthroat international market, the agency said it will offer helpful guidance on the best methods for harvesting, processing, and marketing basmati rice.

“United, we have the power to preserve the essence of our precious basmati rice and ensure a prosperous future for our farmers and our nation,” Joshua Njiru, the acting Head of Research and Development at KEBS said.

This year, India for the first time specified the identity standards for basmati rice varieties, including brown, milled, parboiled, and milled parboiled, to ensure the supply of standardized genuine rice in domestic and export markets.

Since “basmati rice is prone to many sorts of adulteration for economic benefits, which may involve, among others, the unreported blending of other non-basmati varieties of rice,” officials stated that these guidelines are expected to enforce quality parameters in the trade.

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