Kitui farmers are expecting a bumper maize harvest from the Sh300 million Usueni Irrigation Scheme in Tseikuru, Kitui County.
The scheme operated by the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) in August 2021 procured Sh6 million farm inputs to support farmers in Mwingi North to scale up food security for the drought stricken area.
NIA working under the umbrella of the Big Four Agenda, cleared and ploughed over 500 acres to ensure that farmers in the area have access to modern irrigation farming techniques that can help improve their farming methods to alleviate hunger and poverty.
Speaking to KNA at Usueni on Monday, Usueni Irrigation Scheme Manager Chris Opondo appealed to more farmers to join the scheme saying water availability is guaranteed all year for irrigation.
“Farmers can do more to optimize the use of water on the available land adding that the government is helping them by investing in farmer outreach, education and assistance programmes for on-farm water-use best management practices, all of which will yield better returns,” Opondo said.
The Scheme Manager noted that the move is a paradigm shift in the County’s farming methods from relying too heavily on rain-fed agriculture and towards irrigation allowing farmers to be in-charge of irrigation schemes under the national government.
“The arid Mwingi North region is now thriving because of the availability of water for irrigation. This model farm has drip irrigation capable of watering over 1, 000 acres of land,” Opondo said.
He said that the community has learnt the best farming practices through this model farming, “We sell the farm produce such as sukuma wiki, tomatoes and other horticulture produce at affordable prices.”
Opondo said that the model irrigation farm is a game changer in the area since many farmers have been trained on modern farming practices that they are implementing in the farms to increase food production and alleviate perennial dependence on relief aid.
He disclosed that several farmers have shown interest in abandoning rain fed agriculture to irrigated agriculture to ensure they have ready farm produce all year round for both domestic consumption and sell off the surplus.
Kitui County Commissioner Thomas Sankei commended the farmers adding that, the government was committed to ending food insecurity in the semi-arid county through the provision of model farms to equip farmers with modern farming skills.
“This project is helping improve the livelihoods of the locals. You now have money in your pockets to help you support you children go to school, put food on the table and save for future use,” Sankei said.
By Yobesh Onwong’a