Kapenguria, Saturday, December 16, 2017 KNA
West Pokot county government in partnership with Mercy Corps will establish a Sh. 10 million Takaywa irrigation scheme in the semiarid volatile area along the border of West Pokot and Turkana counties. Speaking at the ground during the official launch of the project, the area Governor Prof. John Lonyangapuo said the project will improve food security and reduce relief food dependency.
Lonyangapuo said that the project will support over 500 families which have been depending on relief food since independence. Lonyangapuo said the project target to irrigate over 50 acres of land during first phase and projected to harvest over 6,000 bags of maize of 90kg. Over 50 acres will be a solar powered irrigation scheme done on river Suam tapping used waters from turbines of Turkwel Dam in Takaywa village, Kasei ward in North Pokot Sub County. “We shall plant short season crops mainly five series type of maize which will enable farmers to till their farms thrice per year, hence reducing over dependence on relief food and at the same time encourage the locals to diversify instead of depending on livestock,” he said.
The governor said past governments have marginalized the region and encouraged cattle rustling along the border, saying they failed to initiate any project to keep the residents busy.
“This area has been isolated for long. Youths are idle and residents lack food, this has encouraged them to engage in raids to help them earn a living,” he said.
He added that the national government needs to set up more irrigation schemes in the region, saying this will encourage locals to farm, earn a living and help reduce cases of cattle rustling. He said the county has a large virgin land which, when irrigated can be able to feed the county and surplus for sale. “The farms are fertile and farmers will not require fertilizer. The only way forward to end cases of insecurity is by setting up more irrigation schemes in the area,” he said. “We did soil testing and the land has high level of soil nutrients. We are doing ‘Operation Ondoa Njaa’ and the area will be the food basket for the region. We don’t want youths to be idle and engage in cattle rustling activities,” he said.
The county boss said that they will encourage farmers to practice inter cropping in the irrigation scheme to supplement pastoralism. Lonyangapuo said pastoralism has led to loss of lives and properties along the border as young people engage in raids. “We want national and non-governmental organizations to partner with counties that are prone to cattle rustling and set up irrigation schemes to help enhance peace in the regions,” he said.
The governor said the County government will employ experts in irrigation to make sure the project succeeds. “We need trainings of expertise on irrigation .We shall also do other small irrigation schemes on rivers Kanyangareng, Kerio and Wei Wei,” he said.
One of the residents, Mary Lolem welcomed the establishment of the irrigation schemes, saying it will help reduce cases of malnutrition and stunted growth in children under five years in the region. “We are unable to feed our children on a balanced diet since we don’t have sufficient food. The government should send agricultural extension officers here to teach us on modern farming methods,” she said.