- The World Bank and KfW Development Bank-funded project will benefit more than 12,500 farmers from Siaya and Busia.
- The multi-billion project will see more than 10,914 acres of land put under irrigation upon completion.
Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Zacharia Njeru has announced that the first phase of the Sh3.8 billion Lower Nzoia Irrigation project will be completed by next month.
The project, which taps its water from River Nzoia, cuts across Siaya and Busia counties, covering Ugunja, Alego-Usonga and Budalang'i subcounties.
Upon completion, the project is set to boost rice farming in the area, as well as mitigate the perennial flooding in the regions.
"The whole project will be complete by May 2025, but the first phase will be completed by the end of this month (February 2024)," Njeru said during the inspection of the project at the main intake point in Ugenya, Siaya county.
He said there were hiccups that hindered the project, which was started in June 11, 2018 and expected to be completed in 2021, but was extended to 2022.
This is after the contractor cited difficulty in accessing the land as the main cause of the delays.
The project was awarded to Sinohydro Corporation Company.
The World Bank and KfW Development Bank-funded project will benefit more than 12,500 farmers from Siaya and Busia.
The multi-billion project will see more than 10,914 acres of land put under irrigation upon completion.
According to the National Irrigation Authority, 5, 640 farmers are in Siaya with 6,744 from Busia. In Siaya, 1,911 hectares will be irrigated with 2,505 hectares in Busia.
By May next year, Njeru said, about 4,407 hectares will be under production in both Siaya and Busia counties.
Farmers will grow high value crops such as fruits and vegetables in 2,023 hectares. Besides high value crops, they will plant rice in rotation with soybeans, maize and other legumes in the other 2,023 acres.
It is projected that farmers will generate an estimated revenue of Sh 4.8 billion annually once completed and operational.
Njeru said the project will be contributing to the food and nutrition security in line with Bottom Up Economic Transformation Agenda.
Irrigation Principal Secretary Ephantus Kimotho said the government is almost dispensing with the issue of compensation of land owners that delayed the project's progress.
"In a month, the issue of compensation shall be sorted out," he said.
Until last year, a section of Usonga residents had not been compensated for the space occupied by secondary canals on their lands.
The project has primary, secondary and feeder canals, with access paths running parallel on both sides.
The PS said, with more than 4,047 hectares put under production, some 56,000 metric tonnes of rice will be produced to address the rice deficit in the country.
"This zone is a key strategic area for addressing rice deficit in the country," Kimotho said.
On his part, Siaya Governor James Orengo termed the project as "a game changer", which he said will boost food production in the county.
He said agriculture is a key anchor in his government's transformation agenda.
"We are grateful to the passion that the national government is committed to the project. As a county, we have already built a rice mill (in Siriwo- Usonga) that will be launched in two months time," the governor said.
Orengo called on farmers in Siaya and Busia counties to be ready to put the shared resource into maximum use to ensure food security.