The National Irrigation Authority (NIA) has embarked on expansion of Ahero and West Kano irrigation schemes in Kisumu County to boost rice production in the country.
The expansion program to be undertaken over the next three years will see the schemes increased by an additional 5,500 acres bringing the total acreage under irrigation to 18,500.
NIA Chairman Joshua Toro said the expansion will cover Awasi, Chiga, Mbega and Kabong’o areas to net an additional 2,500 farmers.
The expansion will account for 25% of the 1.9 million acres of land earmarked for irrigation nationally adding that once completed it will double rice production in the area and empower farmers economically.
Toro said NIA was committed to helping the government attain the big four agenda pillar on food security adding that over the last three years the authority has injected Sh. 550 million to repair infrastructure and expand the two schemes.
This, he observed, has increased the number of rice farmers in the area to 7,000 who earn up to Sh. 2.8 billion from rice annually.
Speaking at Ahero Multipurpose Training Institute on Monday during the unveiling ceremony of Ahero town, Toro called for partnership with the county government and development partners to address perennial floods in the area which have seen farmers suffer huge losses.
“The rising water levels in Lake Victoria is a big challenge because it has consumed 80% of irrigable land in the West Kano scheme,” he said.
He urged the County government to partner with NIA to address the plight of farmers among them, setting up an additional mill to ensure that all rice harvested is milled before being sold.
The County government, he added, should support capacity building for farmers, assist in post-harvest handling, value chain development and storage to cushion them against losses.
This, he said, will see farmers fetch good prices unlike currently where they are fleeced by middlemen who export the unprocessed rice to Uganda.
To scale up production in the country, Toro disclosed that NIA was working on a policy to enable the private sector to actively participate in rice farming.
Kisumu Governor Prof. Anyang Nyong’o on his part pledged to support the establishment of an additional mill in the area to ensure that rice produced is milled and packaged for sale in local supermarkets.
The County government, he said, has procured 3,600 meters of irrigation pipes to enable farmers in the area to venture into horticultural production.
As part of the Covid-19 Economic Recovery Program, he said 10,000 small holder farmers will receive fruit seedlings, vegetable seeds, cereals and one day old chicks worth Sh.13 million.
He added that the county has received from the National Government 20.8 metric tonnes of rice seeds valued at Sh. 4.8 million to be distributed to farmers in the area.
Prof. Nyong’o lauded the expansion of Ahero and West Kano irrigation schemes saying it will play a significant role in the growth of Ahero town.
The County government banks on rice and sugarcane farming to accelerate growth in the town which is the second to be unveiled in Kisumu after Maseno.
By Chris Mahandara.