• The Sh7.3 billion Galan Kulau Irrigation project commenced in November 2014 and was expected to end in March 2017.
• Completion date was later extended to January 2018 but a stalemate between Green Arava, an Israeli company, and the government has delayed the project.
The National Irrigation Authority has requested for Sh600 million to complete the 10,000-acre Galana-Kulalu model farm after the Israeli company Green Arava pulled out.
Water and Irrigation Principal Secretary Joseph Irungu said the decision was made due to breach of contract by the Israeli company.
He spoke last week during an inspection tour of Galana-Kulalu since NIA took over production activities. Irungu was accompanied by Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga. The two were on their first visit to the irrigation scheme since taking office.
Irungu said NIA will be in charge of completing the remaining work so that it can be handed over to the private sector as was the plan.
“We have ended the Green Arava contract and we are going to do the remaining work on the model farm through local talent that we have,” Irungu said.
But two months ago, Israel deputy ambassador to Kenya Eyal David said the two countries had completed negotiations for Green Arava to resume work.
The dispute between Green Arava and NIA started in 2018 when the contractor claimed that it was owed Sh1 billion by the then National Irrigation Board. But the irrigation agency disputed the claim.
The Sh7.3 billion project commenced in November 2014 and was expected to end in March 2017. The completion date was later extended to January 2018.
This is yet to happen due to a stalemate between the contactor and NIA.
“We do not want the contractor. He is a liability and whatever he is doing is wrong. He is stealing from the government,” said Joshua Toro, NIA chairman.
The PS urged the National Assembly to allocate the requested money to enable the authority deliver the model farm as envisioned.
The initial plan by the government was to open up the entire project to the private sector after completion of the model farm. However, the process stalled after the tender that had been floated was cancelled about three years ago.
Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki and chairman of the National Assembly, Environment and Natural Resources committee said they had received the request from the Ministry of Irrigation and the resources will be provided.
“Parliament will allocate the requested budget of Sh600 million to complete the remaining 4,900 acres of the 10,000 acres model farm. We are confident that this will be completed in the 2020-2021 financial year,” he said.
Toro said the 10,000-acre model farm is at 85 per cent implementation infrastructure wise with 5,100 acres of land already under crop.
“The authority will be able to complete the remaining 15 per cent once resources are available. So far, we have undertaken rehabilitation works to return the river to its course after the floods of May 2018 and equally after the recent floods of November 2019 to May 2020. Roofing of both the main pumping station and the booster pumping station at the drip area has also been done and testing of the installed drip irrigation system is currently ongoing,” he said.
Toro said the area targeted for cropping from January to June was 3,500 acres with 3,000 acres under centre pivot and 500 acres under drip. Another 2,000 acres are under crop.
“We are also planning to have a demonstration farm of 10 acres to test what other crops can be grown. Crops such as bananas, mangoes, cashew nuts, citrus, palms and pineapples will be planted in the demonstration farm,” he said.
Edited by Henry Makori