Tana River County Government will fund Hola Irrigation Scheme farmers to cultivate some 2,400 acres of scheme land into commercial maize production.
Scheme Manager James Kirimi said the farmers and the county government had entered into an agreement in which the former will produce the maize which the latter will buy and distribute as relief food.
He said the county administration would provide the farmers with all farm inputs, including certified seeds and fertilizer, as well as help the farmers to plough the 2,400 acres.
“We are in the final touches of the contract, which was set to begin this month,” he said.
Kirimi added that the National Irrigation Board (NIB) would provide fuel for the irrigation water pump as well as technical support to ensure the project succeeds.
Kirimi said if all factors remained constant, the farmers would harvest 20 bags per acre, translating to 48,000 bags worth Sh144 million if the county government honours its pledge of buying the maize at Sh3, 000 per bag.
Kirimi at the same time said NIB was considering connecting the diesel-powered pumping machine to electricity with a view to minimizing costs of irrigation.
He said a grand plan to initiate a gravity irrigation project was in the pipeline, noting that once this materializes, more land would be opened up for agriculture within the scheme.
In January this year, Governor Dhadho Godhana said his government would spend Ksh 17.8 million to buy 445 bags (about 40 tonnes) of maize from the Bura Irrigation Scheme.
It is not yet clear whether the county government has bought the maize at a prize of Sh4, 000 per bag as pledged by the governor.
He said the county had the potential to be the next food basket of the entire nation if the River Tana and millions in acres of arable land are utilized, but lamented that the county’s farmers had been neglected for years.
He said with the right and focused leadership, the residents would produce enough food and cash crops to sustain their families and turn around the county’s economy.