A Sh.400 million government-funded irrigation project has transformed the livelihoods of over 10,000 households in the semi-arid Thika East Sub County, who have since shifted from rain-fed agriculture to irrigation farming.
The farmers of Ndula, Nguliba and Maguguni villages in the lower parts of Kiambu County are now fully engaged in their farms and are making a kill out of the project.
Before the operationalisation of the Ndumango irrigation project in November, the farmers failed in every bid of planting due to low rains and depended mostly on relief food.
They now have piped water on their farms and most of them practice sprinkler irrigation to water their crops.
Julius Kiiru, a farmer from Ngurubani village has grown paw paws, tomatoes and cassava on his three-quarters of an acre farm. In the seven months, his paw paw trees have matured and fruits are almost ready for sell.
From the occasional harvests of all the produce on his farm, he can make up to Sh.3, 000 a day.
“I’m fully engaged on my farm. Before, we were living in poverty but I can now see some cash flow. This is just the
beginning and in a few months’ time, I will diversify the crops that I’m farming to make the best out of this water
project,” he says.
A few kilometres in Ndula village, Swaleh Githinji is uprooting weeds in his quarter acre banana farm. He planted them in November and has already started harvesting.
He makes close to Sh.30, 000 a month from banana sales. Besides, he has also cultivated other crops on other farms.
The Kiambu County Commissioner (CC), Wilson Wanyanga who led a delegation of the county Presidential Delivery Unit to monitor government projects in the Sub County said such initiatives would drive the government’s agenda on food security.
He called on residents to embrace the project and engage more on their farms so as to eradicate poverty which is still high in some of the households.
“We don’t want to see people idling in market places when they can be busy in their farms. This project is for all and we hope more households engage in irrigation,” he said.
The Thika MP, Patrick Wainaina who played a key role in the completion of the project after it stalled for more than five years called on residents to shift from rain-fed agriculture and engage in irrigation.
Wainaina said the Sub County can feed the entire county and parts of Nairobi city in the coming years if all farmers
embrace the project.
He called for the digging of water pans in the area to counter effects of adverse dry weather that sometimes results in drying of rivers.
The MP at the same time, called on farmers to join groups so as to benefit from government funds such as Uwezo, women enterprise and youth funds to expand their agricultural activities and also for marketing.
By Muoki Charles