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Mamboleo Junction-Guba road in Kisumu county being constructed by Kajulu Residents Association on November 10, 2019. [Denish Ochieng/ Standard]  

The NIB hopes that by adopting improved mechanisation, it will ensure long-term food security.

Residents of Nyanza are set to benefit as multi-billion-shilling projects earmarked by the national government and private firms to transform the region’s economy begin to take shape.

As money is invested in trade, infrastructure and agricultural projects, it is hoped that the region’s economy, which has stagnated in the past few years, will witness a much-needed upswing.

The opening of a Sh3 billion port would be the icing on the cake should the national government resolve the controversies that have dogged its operationalisation.

Some of the projects that have started to take shape are establishment of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), construction of the Koru-Soin Dam and expansion of the West Kano Irrigation Scheme.

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Last week, government officials tasked with delivering the SEZ held a public participation forum in Kisumu as they began fast-tracking implementation of the initiative.

Special Economic Zone Authority acting CEO Meshack Kimeu said a feasibility study for the project is underway and is expected to be completed in the next three months.

The SEZ, which will be established in the Nyando sugar belt in Miwani, is tipped to provide employment for thousands of residents and turn the local economy around.

The National Irrigation Board also has a presence in the region where it has intensified efforts to boost food production by increasing the acreage under rice from 11,000 to 16,000 hectares.

The NIB hopes that by adopting improved mechanisation, it will ensure long-term food security.

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The board is also buying rice from farmers in line with a directive from President Uhuru Kenyatta aimed at cushioning farmers from exploitation.

Nyanza NIB Regional Manager Joel Tanui said the government is purchasing Basmati rice at Sh85 per kilogramme while the Sindano variety is retailing at Sh40 per kilogramme.

Rice harvest

“We have asked farmers to bring their rice harvest to us so that we can purchase it at good prices,” said Mr Tanui.

Another ongoing project by the National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority is aimed at improving food production through irrigation as well as controlling perennial flooding in the region.

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The authority’s CEO Geoffrey Sang told The Standard that they would fast-track construction of the Sh40 billion Koru-Soin Dam.

Mr Sang said they had started engaging various stakeholders on delivery of the project. “We are on track and are planning the process of public participation because the exercise will also involve the displacement of people to pave way for construction of the multi-purpose dam.”

Sang described the project as “a game-changer in the quest to boost food production in the region” and urged locals to throw their weight behind it.

Another project that has already taken shape is the Sh15 billion Kenya Breweries Limited plant in Kisumu, which has seen the brewer contract farmers to grow sorghum.

The company constructed a brewery where farmers from western Kenya supply specific white sorghum grain varieties to be used as the main raw materials in brewing keg beer.

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Early this year, the brewer announced that nearly 50,000 women had directly benefited from the initiative.

There is hope that a road project, which had slowed business for almost three years, will be completed after the contractor moved back to the stretch between Kondele and Mamboleo in Kisumu.

Stakeholders in the sugar industry are also optimistic after the struggling State-owned Chemelil sugar factory resumed operations following a government bail-out.

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Kisumu branch chairman Israel Agina expressed optimism that the economy would pick up in the coming months.

President Uhuru Kenyatta Nyanza Kajulu Residents Association

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