• Kenya has an irrigation potential of 1.9 million acres (without water storage) or 3.0 million acres with water storage.
• To date, 670,000 acres have been put under irrigation.
The government has set aside Sh389 billion to expand irrigation infrastructure to support farmers in increasing production.
Water, Sanitation and Irrigation CS Alice Wahome has said implementation of the proposed interventions is estimated to cost Sh389 billion over four years.
She said the amount includes the cost of irrigation infrastructure development, construction of water harvesting and storage structures, sector capacity development, targeted support programmes and irrigation information management.
The CS spoke during the launch of the National Irrigation Services Strategy in Nairobi.
“This calls for concerted efforts from all the sector players, in particular development partners and the private sector, to support the government efforts in financing implementation of the strategy," Wahome said.
Effective implementation requires coordination between national and county governments, and collaboration among sector players,she said.
She noted that Kenya has an irrigation potential of 1.9 million acres (without water storage) or 3.0 million acres with water storage.
To date, 670,000 acres have been put under irrigation through initiatives by the Ministry, development partners and other stakeholders.
“This leaves a lot of irrigation potential unexploited. Our country is facing challenges in food security due to perennial drought as a result of climate change. Irrigation offers the best intervention in addressing these challenges,” she said.
Unlocking the potential for irrigation will contribute to national food security and socio-economic development of this country,” the CS said.
Wahome said the National Irrigation Services Strategy is a significant step towards demand-responsive investments to sustainably exploit the untapped potential by expanding and intensifying irrigated agriculture.
The strategy identifies key constraints to irrigation development and management and defines interventions to address them.
They include expanding irrigation infrastructure, irrigation water resource development, technical and institutional capacity development. This is in addition to strengthening the provision of irrigation support services and infrastructure.
The CS said these interventions are designed to increase the area under irrigation by an additional 500,000 acres by the year 2026. This will bring the total acreage under irrigation to 1.1 million acres.
She further said that the strategy also seeks to embrace Farmer-Led Irrigation Development, which is a new initiative to empower resource- poor small-scale irrigation farmers in rural areas.
“The FLID initiative has the potential to benefit two million Kenyan farmers. This bottom up approach to irrigation development is in line with the Kenya Kwanza manifesto,” the CS said.
She proposed a symposium for irrigation stakeholders to deliberate on irrigation.
Irrigation PS Gitonga Mugambi said it costs about Sh200,000 to irrigate one acre of land and that for every acre irrigated, you create five jobs.
“Irrigation brings security. If we can invest between Sh20-Sh25 billion every year on irrigation, within five years, no one will go hungry in Kenya,” Mugambi said.
(Edited by V.Graham)