The Tana River Governor, Dhadho Gaddae Godhana has asked the national government to hand over all irrigation projects in the county to his government.
He claimed that the four major irrigation projects under the National Irrigation Board (NIB) and the Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA) had flopped and would only get a lease of life under the control of the County Government.
Speaking at a public forum at Laini village in his county, Maj (rtd) Godhana claimed that officials mandated to run the food security projects had turned them into a cash cow, while delivering very little to locals.
The projects in question include the much hyped one million acre Galana-Kulalu Food Security Project, the Hola/Tana Irrigation Scheme, the Bura Irrigation Scheme, all under NIB and the Tana Delta Irrigation Project (TDIP) under TARDA.
“I am calling upon the National Government to hand over Galana/Kulalu, Hola, Bura and the TDIP to my government and the county government of Kilifi (for the Galana/Kulalu project) and we assure them that the projects will become viable within six months,” he said.
He lamented that all state-run irrigation projects in the county were on their knees “because money is being siphoned from the public coffers in the name of reviving them,” he said.
He said his government had piloted a maize production programme within the Hola Irrigation Scheme last season and produced 2,000 bags on a 500-acre piece of land, saying this was an indication the county could produce more if it was let to run the scheme.
“State corporations charged with the responsibility of running food security projects in the country have failed miserably and should be relieved of that mandate,” he claimed.
He wondered why the national government was importing maize from a neighbouring country to feed the people of Tana River yet farmers in the Hola Irrigation Scheme were stranded with their produce for lack of market.
He urged the national government to empower local farmers by ensuring they get a ready market for their produce.
Recently, Kilifi Governor, Amason Kingi claimed his administration had the ability to turn around the tottering
Galana/Kulalu Food Security Project within six months if it is handed over to his government.
But speaking during the Tana River County Development Implementation Coordination Committee in the County Commissioner’s Board Room on Tuesday, Hola Scheme Manager, James Kirimi said the scheme was up and running.
“The scheme is doing very well, but it is true we are having a marketing challenge,” he said during the meeting Chaired by County Commissioner, Oning’oi Ole Sosio.
By Emmanuel Masha