• The region had for many years relied on food handouts from the government.
• After Sh40 million funding from the local MP, the residents are smiling all the way to the bank.
Some 10,000 farmers in Thika East are reaping big from an irrigation project that was revived a few months ago after it had stalled for three years.
The residents of Ndula, Muguguni, Ngoliba and Kilimambogo have already embarked on extensive farming of food crops and are now able to feed their families and make profits from their farming through sales.
The region had for many years been associated with drought and hunger. The inhabitants depended on relief food from the government.
In 2015, the state, through the National Irrigation Board, allocated the Ndula-Maguguni-Ngoliba (Ndumango) Irrigation Project Sh409 million to provide water for both irrigation and domestic use to residents in the semi-arid parts of Thika constituency.
However, the project that was expected to be complete by the end of 2016 stalled after the funds were misappropriated.
MP Patrick Wainaina, through his Jungle Nut Foundation, pumped Sh40 million into the project and revived it last year. Now locals have adequate water.
The Star found farmers in their maize, vegetables, bananas, pawpaws, pumpkins, cassava and arrowroots shambas on Saturday.
Swale Githinji cultivates maize and bananas. He says the irrigation project is a godsend to Thika East residents.
“Most of us have already invested in irrigation to meet the growing demand of farm produce in this region. Our land is fertile. The only problem we had was the lack of water for farming. Things will never be the same for us now,” Githinji says confidently.
The Ndula villager banks Sh60,000 per month from the sale of bananas. Yes, he smiles all the way to the bank.
“I’ve adopted the overhead irrigation method and I can attest that it’s successful,” he says.
The project has generated employment for the youth. The high rate of crime that cost residents many a sleepless night is at a minimal level as the youths are busy on the farms.
“This project was long overdue. The benefits we have enjoyed in the last four months are enormous. Our youths are no longer engaging in activities like brewing illicit brews and are busy working in the farms. Again, we expect this region’s economy to improve significantly,” the farmer says.
Julius Kiiru from Maguguni grows pawpaws, passion fruits, tomatoes and pomegranates. He intercrops with pumpkins and cassava on his quarter-acre plot.
“This project has opened many opportunities for us and it will go a long way in improving the livelihoods of residents,” Kiiru told the Star.
He said the demand for fruits is high and that he anticipates getting high yields.
MP Wainaina said reviving the project was one of his priorities as it will ensure food security and empower residents to improve their standard of living.
“This is a project that will turn around fortunes as well as ensure surplus food production through irrigation,” the lawmaker said.
He urged farmers to form clusters that will help them attract funding and more government service including extension services to help them to improve yields and generate more income.
(Edited by R.Wamochie)