Land suitability analysis is a prerequisite to achieving optimum utilization of the available land resources. Lack of knowledge on best combination of factors that suit production of rice has contributed to the low production. The aim of this study was to develop a suitability map for rice crop based on physical and climatic factors of production using a Multi-Criteria Evaluation (MCE) & GIS approach. The study was carried out in Kirinyaga, Embu and Mberee counties in Kenya. Biophysical variables of soil, climate and topography were considered for suitability analysis. All data were stored in ArcGIS 9.3 environment and the factor maps were generated. For MCE, Pairwise Comparison Matrix was applied and the suitable areas for rice crop were generated and graduated. The current land cover map of the area was developed from a scanned survey map of the rice growing areas. According to the present land cover map, the rice cultivated area was 13,369 ha. Finally, we overlaid the land cover map with the suitability map to identify variances between the present and potential land use. The crop-land evaluation results of the present study showed that, 75% of total area currently being used was under highly suitable areas and 25% was under moderately suitable areas. The results showed that the potential area for rice growing is 86,364 ha and out of this only 12% is under rice cultivation. This research provided information at local level that could be used by farmers to select cropping patterns and suitability.
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