NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 11 – National Irrigation Board (NIB) plans to expand Ahero Irrigation Scheme in Kisumu County to bring on board more rice farmers at a cost of Sh150 million.
NIB General Manager Gitonga Mugambi says the potential of the scheme, which was started in 1960 as a pilot scheme, has not been optimally utilized.
Mugambi says the irrigation board has stepped in to make it realize its full potential after it struggled for years.
“It started as a pilot scheme and it has not been able to progress due to a number of challenges,” he said.
The expansion program scheduled to kick off this financial year will take place in Nyando constituency, with an estimated 1,000 acre to be expanded in the first phase.
Mugambi says farmers have been taken through public participation and will be benefiting from piped water from Nyando River to irrigate their farms for rice farming.
“We want to expand to bring farmers on board so that they can be able to utilize the water, which you can see a lot of water flowing to the lake and carry out some meaningful economic activities in their farmers,” he said.
The farmers were categorically told that there will be no compensation for their land since they themselves will be tilting their farms.
Speaking on Friday when he met farmers in Nyando constituency, Mugambi says the expansion will see more farmers contracted to farm rice and be able to benefit from economic activities on their farms.
He assured farmers that the expansion program will kick off as soon as possible once it shall have been launched by the top leadership in the country.
“We will do whatever it takes to ensure we deliver this project as quickly as possible,” he said.
Mugambi announced that NIB has worked on the cost of production that was initially at Sh. 300,000 per acre on irrigation, noting that the cost will be halved.
He says within the scheme, NIB has carried out a feasibility study and designs to change the whole system from pumping to gravity.
“We are planning to have a gravity canal starting from Koru, come down, connect it to Ahero, connect it with South West Kano and connect it with West Kano and bring all that area under the command of gravity,” he said.
He says pumping was the only means of supplying farmers with water thus raising the cost of production which is now expected to be lowered once the gravity system is put in place.
Mugambi says the venture is expensive but NIB has approached Japan International Cooperation Agency to fund the initiative.