A small-scale irrigation project championed by the Coast Development Authority (CDA) in Chakama location, Malindi sub county of Kilifi is changing livelihoods.
The CDA has spent Sh.22 million to support the agriculture initiative in the arid Chakama location that is prone to famine as rain-fed farming is no longer viable.
CDA Managing Director Dr. Mohamed Keinan said the smallholder irrigation scheme aimed at boosting food security in poor households has started yielding benefits to the residents.
Dr. Keinan said the Chakama smallholder irrigation project is one of three projects that are being undertaken by the authority in the region to improve food security.
Speaking on Sunday after touring the community farms Keinan said the CDA supports the Chakama irrigation scheme covering 218 acres using water from Galana River that meanders in the region.
He said the project is slowly turning Chakama into the food basket of Kilifi and improving the living standards of the people.
“The food project seeks to build the resource base of poor rural households, increase their incomes, reduce the costs of food and improve nutrition levels,” he said.
Keinan said the project seeks to increase food security through promotion of irrigation farming among small holder farmers in Chakama thereby building their resilience to climate change, increase food security and improve living standards.
He said the ambitious small-scale irrigation schemes by CDA are designed as a ‘ladder out of poverty’ for rural communities and smallholder farmers.
The MD said the agricultural initiative is aimed at unlocking the existing potential in the county to improve food security, income of farmers and general livelihoods of the residents.
He said the irrigation project has ensured food sustenance for members of the scheme as well as advanced environmental conservation.
“We have developed 218 acres into a productive irrigated farm and established a 10 a care demonstration farm,” he said.
Dr. Keinan said efforts towards changing the lives of area inhabitants started in 1969 but little had been achieved until CDA did a survey in 2007 in the whole of coast region to identify areas that could be supported to undertake modern farming practices and Chakama was identified as being one of them.
He said CDA is ready to replicate the project in other arid areas in the coastal region as the focus shifts from rain-fed agriculture to irrigation to stem food crisis.
He said different irrigation technologies will be used to grow high-value crops and enhance catchment management practices set to improve food production and livelihoods of those dependent on agriculture.
A farmer’s representative in Chakama Solomon Kisomba said the villagers were excited by the project and were ready to cooperate with CDA in its efforts of transforming agriculture in their villages.
Ibrahim Munga a project coordinator said the irrigation scheme is aimed at enabling people to practice modern agricultural practices to improve production and productivity since there is unreliable rainfall in the area.
He said local farmers are growing crops such as maize, tissue culture bananas, onions, watermelon, tomatoes and vegetables in the 218 acres’ community schemes.
Eunice Kasena, a farmer, said household income for local farmers has improved greatly adding that they were ready to guard the project for posterity.
By Hussein Abdullahi