Tana River farmers have been advised to embrace irrigation agriculture to improve food production amid the biting drought.
Tana River is faced with a severe drought despite being endowed with the largest river in Kenya that transcends the county for more than 500 Kilometers ending at the Indian Ocean at Kipini.
The County has the potential to be one of the breadbaskets of Kenya if it maximizes the use of two major irrigation schemes namely Tana and Bura irrigation schemes under the National Irrigation Authority (NIA).
Speaking in Makere grounds to mark World Food Day, Acting County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Agriculture, Land and Livestock, Buya Phares urged farmers to make drastic changes in food production.
“The drought has affected us and the situation is severe. The environment has changed, and the rains have disappeared. We must as well change; the government is doing all it can to deal with the drought,” said Phares.
“To upscale food production, the county government has bought 20 tractors stationed in Hola, Garsen, Chara, Kipini and Bura. We have also established seven solar-powered mini irrigation schemes that we can use to produce more food”, he added.
Phares said over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture is not sustainable because of climate change because weather patterns have since changed and farmers should also change to climate-smart farming.
“Let’s strive to change with the way life is going. In the past, we didn’t use fertilizers, but now, without using fertilizer, we won’t have a good harvest,’’ said the Ag. CECM.
The Ag CEC challenged Tana cooperatives societies to put their houses in order for them to get funds from the government and other development partners. He said many giant farmers’ cooperatives have collapsed as a result of poor management and squabbles.
In 2018, the CECM revealed, Governor Dhadho Godhana unveiled a fully funded farming project dubbed Kilimo cha Governor that targeted 2400 acres in Tana and Bura irrigation schemes.
National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) Tana River Coordinator Abdi Musa echoed Buya’s sentiments on irrigation farming saying the county is a sleeping giant that has the potential to be food sufficient.
By Sadik Hassan