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Ahero rice farmers get more land under irrigation

By Kevine Omollo | January 25th 2021

National Irrigation Authority Western Kenya Schemes Manager Joel Tanui takes Irrigation PS Joseph Irungu and his entourage through a presentation (PHOTO: Kevine Omollo)

KISUMU, KENYA: Rice production in Nyando is expected to increase following the expansion of land under irrigation by 1, 000 acres.

The National Irrigation Authority (NIA) has completed infrastructural works at Kobong’o Scheme and production is expected to begin next month once the water supply is done.

Water, Sanitation and Irrigation Principal Secretary Joseph Irungu toured the new site which is part of the expansion of land under irrigation in the Western Kenya region by 37, 000 acres.

Irungu endorsed progress of the irrigation expansion works and urged residents to support the initiative as it will play a key role in achieving the Big 4 agenda.

The latest expansion brings to 2,450 acres the total acreage of land put under irrigation in the last two years in Mbega, Kobong'o, and Kasiru/Kolal schemes which were lying idle.

The new schemes add to Ahero, West Kano, and South West Kano which have traditionally been under Western Kenya Schemes.

Ahero which gets its Irrigation water from River Nyando currently has a total acreage of 4,768 from the initial acreage of 2, 168 at its inception in the 1960s. Today, over 2,000 farmers and 30, 000 dependents benefit from rice farming in the scheme.

West Kano, on the other hand, gets its Irrigation water through pumping from Lake Victoria, and currently covers 2, 830 acres which benefit 780 farm holders, 2,200 farmers and 20, 000 dependents.

The Authority has managed to expand 600 acres out of the Sh270 million expansion work going on which is set to see an additional 7, 700 acres under irrigation at West Kano.

According to the PS, despite irrigation being the mainstay of Agriculture, Kenya has achieved a paltry 27 per cent of land under irrigation out of the potential 1.9 million acres.

“By expanding the 3,000 acres here and other areas across the country, we are moving nearer to our target of putting 700,000 acres of land under irrigation by the year 2022, but eventually by 2030 we want to meet our target of having 1.4 million acres under irrigation,” he said.

The PS was accompanied by Senior Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Representative Yasuda Tomoyuki, National Irrigation Authority Chairman Joshua Toro, CEO Gitonga Mugambi, MPs; Jared Okello (Nyando), and Onyango Koyoo (Muhoroni).

During his tour of the region, the PS issued 27, 836 bags of specialized rice cropping fertilizer to help the farmers recover from the consequences of the April-May 2019 floods and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Okello and Koyoo expressed their support for the ongoing expansion, saying if well exploited, the area can produce enough rice to meet the country’s demand.

“We aim to have enough food and tackle the flooding menace, and we are ready to support this initiative,” said Okello.

“We want to thank the Ministry because when we raised these issues to do with irrigation and flood mitigation, you have given us an ear and we can see the work begin. Ours is to support the initiative and ensure we improve the lives of our people,” said Koyoo.

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