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Government to drill boreholes for miraa farmers, but rows rage

By Joseph Muchiri | March 4th 2019
By Joseph Muchiri | March 4th 2019

The national government has started drilling boreholes and earth-dams in order to spur irrigation in Embu, Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties.

The irrigation efforts are particularly targeted at improving miraa (khat) farming in those counties.

The projects will be financed from a Sh1 billion kitty that the national government allocated to the miraa sector.

The allocation was made after miraa farmers complained of revenue losses after the ban on khat export to the United Kingdom.

The Ministry of Agriculture has already floated a tender for the construction of 15 boreholes and six earth dams in the three counties.

Embu is earmarked to have two boreholes and five earth dams. Tharaka Nithi will have three boreholes and one earth dam while Meru will have 10 boreholes.

Embu miraa farmers, however, said they expected more boreholes. Miraa Technical Implementation Committee member Kimathi Munjuri said the boreholes would be drilled in public institutions such as schools, police posts, markets, church compounds and chiefs' camps.

He explained that although the dams would be located in these institutions, they were designed to distribute water to a network of about 1.5 kilometre radius.

Embu miraa farmers, led by their spokesman Pius Njiru, disputed the cost of the dams and boreholes, saying it was exaggerated.

According to the miraa committee, an earth-dam will cost Sh6 million to build, while a borehole will be sank at a cost Sh9 million.

Munjuri explained that the work involves constructing a borehole -backed by a 1,000-litre tank and the installation of power and water distribution channels.

The farmers, however, were not satisfied with the explanation and are now calling for the dissolution of the miraa committee.

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