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Tarda seeks Sh5b from private sector to expand rice production in Tana Delta

COAST
By Patrick Beja | September 14th 2016

MOMBASA: A State agency is seeking a private partner to inject Sh5 billion into a rice production project in the Tana Delta. This will help increase production of milled rice from the current 540 tonnes to 100,000 annually.

The management of Tana and Athi River Development Authority (Tarda) said it intends to identify a partner under the public-private partnership (PPP) to help it fully rehabilitate the already developed 1,763 hectares, and open up an additional 10,000 hectares of rice.

In a report, Tarda said the project proposal was economically viable and financially sound, with an internal rate of return (IRR) of 14 per cent. Tarda currently runs the Tana Delta Irrigation Project (TDIP) in lower Tana but it has been operating below capacity owing to lack of funds for expansion.

Documents indicate that the authority seeks to create a vibrant TDIP agribusiness within five years of the partnership and incorporate other high-value crops within the crop production system as well as develop an environmental and social management plan.

“The total capital cost of implementation is estimated at Sh5 billion. This includes extensive rehabilitation works, construction works and initial fund requirements for farm operations, which consist of inputs, rehabilitation of rice mills and farm machinery,” said the report.

INADEQUATE WATER

Tarda released the report through Engineering Services Manager Joseph Karanja, who recently toured the TDIP project in the county with board chairman Abdul Bahari.

The two witnessed dried irrigation canals to the existing rice project following the effects of a change of the river’s course.

Under the proposed partnership, annual production of milled rice will be estimated at 100,000 tonnes and the creation of over 5,000 direct and indirect jobs as well as improving access of irrigation water to more than 300 hectares of lower Tana village irrigation schemes.

In the current season, TDIP planted only 600 hectares of paddy and had expected to harvest 540 tonnes. However, due to inadequate water supply to the rice farm in Gamba off the Garsen-Lamu road, the project lost some paddy and expects to harvest only 300 hectares or 270 tonnes of paddy.

It is expected that the operationalisation of Lamu Port and opening of road and railway networks linking Lamu Port, South Sudan and Ethiopia will provide ready and efficient market access for the produce.

It is also envisaged that the expanded product will increase the production of high-value crops and incomes from the region with surplus for export.

The project is also expected to improve the livelihoods of resident communities in the Tana Delta and ensure savings in foreign exchange through reduction of food imports and foreign exchange earnings through exports.

Tarda’s role would be that of a facilitator by providing land and milling services to the lease and liaison with other relevant Government agencies, and provide access and usage of existing estate compounds, water infrastructure and farm machinery.

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