Murang’a County Government in conjunction with World Bank-funded National Agricultural and rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP) is in the process of completing a multimillion irrigation project that will see thousands of Maragua residents connected to water for irrigation and domestic use by end of the year.
The Ititu/ Ikundu Irrigation Scheme Project at a cost of Sh. 107,146.000 Million is in its final stages and will benefit 457 households who have previously relied on unstable rains for farming and domestic use.
Speaking to KNA at Maragua River conveyance intake area, the representative of the beneficiaries in Nginda ward, Mr Joseph Kuria expressed gratitude to the county government and NARIGP while observing that the irrigation scheme will transform lives of the residents.
“For long we have relied on rain water for farming and domestic use since we do not have access to piped water despite being near a river source, but now our lives will change through sustainable agriculture,” Kuria divulged.
He noted that farmers who are well off rely on shallow wells for water which is still not sufficient.
“Our main cash crop is bananas but they have not been doing so well due to insufficient rainfall’’ observed Kuria.
He said that when the idea of NARIGP banana value chain addition was floated to the community, they got interested and approached the county government with a proposal to set up the irrigation scheme through World Bank Funding.
Once connected to the water, the residents are optimistic of reaping huge from farming as they intend to diversify and move away from rain fed farming methods.
“Some have already started introducing banana varieties that fetch up to five times in the market as compared to the normal bananas,” observed Kuria
He also added that horticulture farming is also in the offing for the majority of farmers.
The total conveyance of the irrigation scheme is 14 kilometers from River Maragua and pipes have already been laid connecting the beneficiaries’ homes.
The NAGRIP Project Coordinator, Mr John Waihenya said that in all the beneficiaries’ homes, a 100 cubic meter pond is already in place for storing excess water.
“This will ensure that when rains are inadequate, the farmers can store water for usage that will last them 2 to 3 months,” said Waihenya.
“The ponds which will have dam liners, will help increase productivity and provide livelihoods as the beneficiaries will have access to water in and out of seasons,” he further added.
NAGRIP was established in the county in 2017 with the objective of increasing rural agricultural productivity and profitability.
NAGRIP also plays a hand in value chain addition, market oriented livelihood intervention and nutrition mainstreaming.
Moreover, the project coordinator confirmed that the farmer’s representatives have been trained and taken to Mutunguru Irrigation Scheme in Meru for benchmarking
“We figured that connecting them to irrigation water is not enough, capacity building is also important so they will be able to increase productivity of the bananas and get ways of adding value to their farm produce. The irrigation project is set to start before the end of the year.
By Florence Kinyua and Purity Mugo