Multibillion irrigation project to be completed in June

Principal Secretary for East African Community and Regional Development Susan Koech (in yellow blouse) and Karachuonyo MP Adipo Okuome view crops produced through the Kimira Oluch Smallholder Farm Improvement Project (KOSFIP). Construction of the multibillion irrigation project in Homa Bay County will be completed in June after suffering some delay. [PHOTO: JAMES OMORO/STANDARD]

A multi-billion-shilling irrigation project that had delayed for nine years is finally set for completion in the next five months.

The Kimira Oluch Smallholder Farm Improvement Project (KOSFIP) in Karachuonyo and Rangwe constituencies was delayed by lack of funds and Government bureaucracy.

The Sh6 billion project that targets to put 1,474 hectares under irrigation is a partnership between the national government and the African Development Bank.

The project involves channelling water from rivers Awach, Kibuon and Tende more than 10km away, into erstwhile dry village farms.

Upon completion, it is expected to serve more than 4,000 households.

Already, farmers are reaping the benefits of the project, although it is not completed yet.

The project first ran into trouble last year after contractors downed tools to protest delayed payments from the Government.

Funding hitches

Touring the project on Monday, East African Community and Regional Development Principal Secretary Susan Koech said the funding hitches had been addressed and that the contractors were back on the site.

Dr Koech announced that 90 per cent of the project had been completed.

“We only have ten per cent of minor civil works to complete. We expect the construction of the project infrastructure to end by June 30,” she said.

The project is expected to boost food security in the region.

Karachuonyo MP Adipo Okuome, who accompanied the CS during the tour,  said it would open up untapped agricultural potential in the area and reduce poverty.

"It will enable farmers to produce enough food, not only for Nyanza but for the rest of the country," he said.

The MP said the area is endowed with fertile soils but has been facing an acute water shortage.

“You do not need a lot of fertiliser to grow crops in this area. The only challenge has been lack of water for irrigation which is now being provided,” he said.

Maximum benefits

He called on residents to make maximum use of the project.

“It would be an embarrassment to the people of Nyanza if our farmers fail to use this water to the maximum," he said.

Homa Bay Agriculture Executive Aguko Juma promised to deploy more agricultural extension officers to help farmers reap maximum benefits from the project.

“The extension officers will train farmers on modern technologies in crop production,” he said.