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Gov’t banks on irrigation projects to improve farming

The Government is banking on irrigation projects to change the fortunes of residents in the semi-arid Tana River County, which is currently facing severe drought.

Tana River has three major irrigation schemes under the National Irrigation Authority (NIA); Galana Kulalu food Security Project, Tana and Bura Irrigation Schemes.

Maize plantation at the Makere ya Gwano Small Scale Irrigation Project. Photo by Sadik Hassan

The Kenya Climate-Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP) is currently implementing several projects in Tana River that include overreliance on the Sh32 million Makere Ya Gwano Small Scale Irrigation Project.

The small irrigation project will benefit 500 households in the Mikinduni Ward upon full completion. Makere farmers have planted maize in the 30-acre farm and are expected to harvest in November.

“In this minor irrigation scheme, we have supported 60 farmers through provision of seeds, tilling of land and a solar-powered water system. We are expecting them to harvest maize in November,’’ said Peter Monyoki, KCSAP Coordinator in Tana River.

KCSAP is a 5-year project jointly funded by the World Bank and the Government of Kenya to a tune of US$250 million (Sh25 billion) in 24 Counties.

“It is a 5-year project funded by the World Bank, National Government and County government. In Tana River, we are in six wards. Tana North (Hirimani & solar-powered), Tana River (Mikinduni and Kinakomba) and Tana Delta (Garsen South and Kipini West),’’ said Munyoki.

According to Munyoki, KCSAP is reviving two other minor irrigation schemes in Hasako in Madogo Ward and in Hewani in Garsen West Ward to assist farmers to improve their farm produce.

He added that the aim is to ensure that farming is sustainable in the long run through the use of solar-powered water absorption systems in a bid to reduce costs to farmers. KCSAP also gives seeds to farmers that take a short time to harvest.

“We are giving them seeds like green grams; we support them to farm cassava. Part of diversification is to reduce the overreliance on rain-fed agriculture. There are farmers we are supporting in bee and goat farming,’’ said Munyoki.

KCSAP mainly focuses on Maize, Green Grams, Beef and Indigenous Poultry. They have so far sponsored 258 farmers to the tune of Sh217 million.

More than 50 groups have benefitted from the improved Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Kienyeji (indigenous) chicken. They have also been given solar-powered incubators for the production of chicks.

KCSAP is also constructing two water pans in Wayu and Hirimani Wards to support pastoralists who are trekking for several kilometers in search of water for their livestock.

“We have bought machinery for pumping water from the river to farms. We are also constructing water pans in Wayu and Hirimani to support our pastoralists who are trekking for kilometres in pursuit of water,’’ Peter Munyoki said.

By Sadik Hassan

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