- Current production is about 25,000 acres which is one crop per year and it is being expanded to 35,000 acres for two crops per year.
- It will be expanded through construction of the Thiba dam which is being built in Kirinyaga county at a cost of Sh8.2 billion.
Mwea Irrigation Scheme in Kirinyaga county is one of the successful irrigation projects in Kenya so far.
National Irrigation Authority CEO Gitonga Mugambi said Mwea is a success story in the sense that it is the biggest irrigation scheme currently covering 25,000 acres.
“It is utilised to the last inch. We work well with farmers in Mwea and that is why everybody is able to produce sometimes even with very little water,” Mugambi said.
He spoke to the Star on Monday during an interview at NIA headquarters.
Mugambi said they are working to expand from the current production of about 25,000 acres which is one crop per year, to 35,000 acres which will be two crops per year.
He said this is being done through construction of the Thiba Dam in Kirinyaga at a cost of Sh8.2 billion to support irrigation activities in Mwea.
“Right now we are at around 66 per cent complete and we are within the budget estimates. We expect to complete that project by December this year, but we will be able to complete it at a figure less than that,” he said.
According to NIA, Kenya has 530,000 acres under irrigation both for private and public sector.
Mugambi said the potential for irrigation without any storage of water is about 1.9 million acres.
“In case we add water storage, it will move from 1.9 million acres to over three million acres that can be irrigated in the country. But as much as we are talking about irrigation, we need to open big areas so that we commercialise farming under irrigation,” he said.
The national government was targeting to put one million acres under irrigation.
Mugambi said the one million acres were distributed in all parts of the country, and part of this would have gone to Galana, others in expansion of Bura, Mwea and to open up Turkana.
“We are opening up Turkana and also carrying out a lot of water storage in Northeastern because there is a lot of potential. At the same time, we are focusing on Lake Victoria basin which has a big potential that has not been utilised,” he said.
He said irrigation plays a big part in the Big 4 Agenda in the sense that when the government provides irrigation, it provides food.
“When people farm under irrigation, we have food and food security is one of the main agendas. Secondly, we provide jobs. Our studies have showed that for every acre you irrigate, you create five jobs. As you produce, you are producing raw materials to support industries, hence industrialisation,” he said.
He added, “As we produce, we are also improving the incomes of farmers and they are able to house themselves hence the issue of housing is addressed. When we have people who are food secure, they are naturally heathy and eating well so less sickness and they can also afford to meet their hospital bills. Irrigation has a direct impact on the Big 4 agenda.”
-Edited by SKanyara