Interior Principal Secretary, Dr Karanja Kibicho has said infrastructural investments are a more realistic and long-lasting way of securing economic benefits for citizens and the country.
The PS said the government is banking on the massive expansion of the road network and other infrastructural developments to drive economic growth in the country.
Speaking in Kirinyaga County when he led the National Development Implementation Technical Committee (NDITC) to inspect projects in the county, the PS said the government is prioritising farmers’ access to markets to boost earnings.
“We hear propositions in public rallies regarding economic empowerment through approaches that are not supported by basic infrastructure,” he said.
“If you want to empower rice farmers, for example, who have been strangled by cheap imports, lack of markets, and interference of the value chain, you don’t empower them by slogans but rather ensuring that you secure the markets,” he added.
Among the projects visited is Mwea Thiba Dam that the PS described as a ‘game-changer’ for rice farming.
The dam that had stalled for years due to legal battles on land acquisition and compensation is now 64 percent complete.
It is expected to bring an extra 10,000 acres of land in Kirinyaga under irrigation.
After completion, the mega-dam will have a holding capacity of 15 million cubic meters of water that will supply water to the irrigation scheme throughout the year.
“This project is a perfect example of how you can improve production. You must invest and provide the farmers with the necessary infrastructure to increase production. This is why the government is spending Sh8 billion to ensure water is available for the two rice-growing seasons in a year,” said Dr Kibicho.
Mwea Irrigation Scheme is the largest rice-growing scheme in East Africa and it produces 70 percent of the total produce in Kenya.
The PS also noted that the government has increased investment in agricultural research and the provision of implements and extension services to farmers to improve the quantity and quality of the yields. The dam will be completed by the end of November this year.
Dr Kibicho who was accompanied by PSs Prof Paul Maringa and Joseph Irungu, also launched the Sh208 million Kirinyaga Cluster Irrigation Project in Kibaratani and Kithumbu that will support tomato, banana, pawpaw, French beans, and green grams farming.
By Mutai Kipngetich