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Farmers to benefit from new pump to boost rice production in Kano

The National Irrigation Authority (NIA) has requisitioned a modern electric pump for installation at the West Kano Irrigation Scheme in Kisumu County to boost rice production.

NIA Acting Deputy General Manager in charge of operations and irrigation management services Joel Tanui said the agency has allocated funds for the initiative in the 2023-2024 financial year’s budget.

This, he said, was set to maximise pumping efficiency and open up more land for irrigation in the 5, 000 acre scheme to scale up rice production.

Located in the Kano plains, the scheme established in 1974 serves over 900 farmers producing about 7,900 metric tonnes annually.

The scheme’s irrigation water is abstracted by pumping from Lake Victoria with the water drainage also pumped back into the lake.

Tanui said the pump which used to serve the scheme was moved to Ahero Irrigation Scheme in 2006 to stabilise water supply.

The decision to install a new pump at the scheme follows a public outcry from farmers who petitioned the NIA to return the pump to open up blocks of the vast scheme which have been cut off following the recent floods experienced in the area.

Appearing before the National Assembly Public Petitions Committee sitting at the scheme, Tanui said the move to relocate the pump to Ahero was arrived at to save a crop worth millions of shillings.

“At that time we were experiencing a big challenge at Ahero Irrigation Scheme which threatened to destroy rice worth Sh. 600 million. That is why we decided to move the pump,” he said.

The NIA, he said, was aware of the plight of farmers in Kano adding that the procurement process for the new pump is set to begin in July to ensure that it is fitted before the end of the year.

“The pumps are not available locally. We source them from South Africa and Germany which takes three to four months,” he said.

Returning the old pump to the scheme, he said, was untenable since it was set to be decommissioned.

NIA, he said, was committed to scaling up irrigation to boost food security in the country adding that measures have been put in place to modernise operations at the scheme.

The Public Petitions Committee Vice Chairperson Janet Sitienei asked NIA to expedite the procurement process and ensure the new pump is fixed to support farmers in the area.

“These farmers are ready and willing to produce rice. Rice is a very important food crop in the country and we must support them fully,” she said.

Sitienei who is also the Member of Parliament for Turbo was accompanied by Eng Benard Muriuki (Mbeere South) and John Bwire (Taveta).

By Chris Mahandara

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