By Panagri Media Correspondent, January 30, 2023, The government has announced plans of rehabilitating existing irrigation schemes in the Asal regions in a move that aims at enhancing food security and value addition.
ASALs and Regional Development Principal Secretary Idris Dokota says the state will go out of its way to support the expansion of irrigated agriculture in the dry parts of the country.
This he says will allow farmers to grow crops before and after the rainy seasons which would enhance national food security.
According to him the improvement of irrigation schemes is part of a broader government strategy to increase food productivity and security.
The revival of irrigation schemes in the ASAL’s region will provide a reliable source of income and livelihoods for smallholder farmers who usually rely on unpredictable rain-fed agriculture.
“Such small scale farmers are increasingly exposed to extreme climatic events such as droughts, diseases and floods,” he said, adding that environmental friendly agriculture will allow year-round production and guarantee food security for all.
Smallholder farmers across many parts of the country have been facing a problem of food insecurity because of climate-induced droughts and lack of effective use of irrigation schemes.
Accompanied by Coast Development Authority (CDA) Managing Director Dr. Mohamed Keinan in his visit to Kilifi County for a familiarization tour of the Sh22 million Chakama Irrigation scheme in Malindi sub-county Dokota said that irrigation schemes will boost the agricultural sector that offer opportunities for greater livelihoods security and poverty reduction in many parts of the country where climatic conditions do not allow for an all-year-around agricultural production.
Dokota has justified irrigation schemes development as a way to achieve food security, poverty reduction and rural employment.
“Under these conditions irrigation projects offer the promise of greater food security and rural development by ensuring yearlong agricultural production,” Dokota said.
The PS said the government is committed to improving the economic growth of farmers by availing water and increasing productivity at grassroots and urged farmers to form co-operatives to expand productivity.
CDA set up the 220-acre solar powered agriculture project in 2019 in the arid Chakama location that is prone to famine as rain-fed farming is no longer viable.
On his part Dr. Keinan said that CDA was spending Sh. 33 million to establish solar irrigation systems in Gava, Kibora and Kanduru all in Kilifi County due to increased demand for irrigated agriculture in the region.
“Rainfall patterns in the region have become more unpredictable and inconsistent with the traditional farming seasons hence the need to adopt small-scale irrigation schemes to improve food security,” said Dr. Keinan.
According to him, CDA will speed up the expansion of irrigation scheme projects in the entire coastal region to enhance diversification and food security and assist small-scale farmers get more value from farming.
“These will enable a shift from rain-fed to irrigated agriculture in response to the recurrent prolonged droughts,” said Dr. Keinan, adding that the projects will also create employment opportunities in the agricultural sector.
The CDA boss said similar small-holder irrigation projects are being implemented in Kwale, Taita Taveta and Tana River counties.
Dr. Keinan says the irrigation schemes that grow crops such as maize, bananas, peppers, okra, onions, watermelon, tomatoes and vegetables offer a lifeline to hundreds of small-scale farmers.
According to the National Irrigation Board (NIB) the country’s irrigation farming potential is estimated at 1.3 million hectares but only 162,000 hectares has been developed to boost food security.