Senate urges Irrigation Authority to eradicate apple snails in rice fields

Farmers planting rice in Mwea Irrigation Scheme in Kirinyaga County.[Jane Mugambi, Standard]

The Senate has appealed to the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) to help eradicate the apple snail infestation in Mwea rice fields.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture which toured the Mwea Irrigation Scheme urged NIA management to work closely with Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) to eradicate the golden apple snail.

Committe chairman Kamau Murango said rice farmers must be sensitised on how to curb spread of the snails.

"The snails have been in the rice fields for over two years, despite the Ministry of Agriculture recommending the use of biograde to control the pests," said Murango who is Kirinyaga Senator.

The Authority has been undertaking grading and pothole filling in a bid to maintain an average of 130km of the primary and secondary access roads at the irrigation scheme.

The annual road maintenance programme is financed through operations and maintenance fees paid by farmers and sometimes through a partnership with the county government.

NIA has developed 1,223.3km canals in the scheme, 45.1km of primary canals, 92.2km of secondary canals, and 1086.1km of tertiary canals.

The committee was impressed with the progress of works in the scheme and urged NIA to ensure the contractor working on Mwea Irrigation Development Project package II completes the remaining 27 per cent of work on time.

Senators urged the Authority to partner with the county government and other partners to ensure the rehabilitation of on-farm (tertiary) roads and make the farms accessible during rainy seasons.