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Thiba Dam to increase rice by 22,000 acres

The completion of the Sh19 billion Thiba dam in Kirinyaga will increase the farmers’ income from the current Sh8 to Sh12 billion as more acreage will come under rice farming.

Mwea Irrigation Scheme Manager Innocent Ariemba said on completion of the project by the end of 2021, income to farmers would be in the range of Sh11 billion.

The completion of the dam is envisaged to increase rice acreage by an extra 22,000 acres translating to a Sh12 billion economy. Phot by Irungu Mwangi

“Life in this part of Kenya will change with farmers becoming better-off, wealth created in the region besides improving food security in the country,” he said

Ariemba speaking at Wanguru said the irrigation scheme is one of the biggest out of the 70 schemes in Kenya.

He said Mwea Irrigation scheme alone supplies close  to 80,000 metric tons of rice out of the 120,000 tons produced in the country.

He said over 67 per cent of the rice consumed in Kenya come directly from Mwea thus strategic in addressing the issue of food security in Kenya.

“In completion, the facility will assist in improving the water storage used in the irrigation scheme during the dry periods,” he said.

During the dry season, he said production of water becomes minimal forcing farmers to do only one season of the rice crop.

“Completion of the project will go a long way in ensuring that we have sufficient water throughout the year,” he said.

He said the construction of the dam will improve the production of rice from the current 26,000 acres to 48,000 acres.

The dam, Ariemba said, will have a capacity of 15 million cubic meters of water and is expected to fill in six months after completion with the construction periods expected to come to an end in December this year.

“One way of controlling climate change is to store water and use it during the dry period; this is why we are collaborating with the Ministry of Environment to impress upon them on the need to preserve the water towers,” he said.

He said the Thiba dam project is one of the strongest pillars in the Jubilee government in the enhancement of food security and improving the manufacturing sector.

“Through irrigated Agriculture we will be able to have more products for the manufacturing sector through value addition,” he said.

Rice farmers through the representatives of the water users association appealed to the government to replace old machinery at the National Irrigation Authority.

The farmers claimed the canals have for long remained unattended thus reducing the flow of water to the rice farms.

The chairperson of the association Mutugi Mwangi said the roads in the scheme were also in a bad state and needed continuous repair to enable the farmers to get their produce to the market.

By Irungu Mwangi

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