The Galana Kulalu irrigation project in Kilifi and Tana River Counties will be subjected to a viability test before handover to the private sector, Interior Ministry Principal Secretary (PS) Dr. (Eng.) Karanja Kibicho has said.
Speaking in his capacity as the chairperson of the National Development Implementation Technical Committee (NDITCC), Dr Kibicho said that he had been impressed with the progress of the project after a site visit at the 10, 000-acre model farm.
“This fact-finding mission has allowed us to evaluate the viability of this project and whether it’s suitable for continuation or not. Of the 10, 000 acres, 5, 200 acres are already in use. But at full utilization, the water from Tana River can sustain 20, 000 acres,” he said.
According to the National Irrigation Authority (NIA), the project is utilizing the installed irrigation infrastructure comprising 20 center pivots covering 3,300 acres, and 1,800 acres under drip irrigation system for production of maize and other high value crops.
“We have also seen other model farms where a variety of crops like BT cotton, pineapples and bananas are being tested for growing here using drip irrigation. Generally, the other PSs and I are happy and we’ll later do a full report. Unlike what the world has been made to believe, something happens here. We have seen a lot of effort that has been put by the National Irrigation Authority,” the PS said.
Dr. Kibicho had been accompanied by nine PSs drawn from different ministries and officials from the Presidential Delivery Unit (PDU), Coast Regional Development Implementation and Coordination Committee (RDICC), Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA), Kenya Rural Road Authority (KeRRA), Coast Water, Coast Development Authority (CDA), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC).
The PS lauded the efforts of the NIA after the body demonstrated the viability of the project by calculating the cost of production of maize and its quality. He, however, added that it was up to him and his fellow PSs to do an analysis and draw conclusions as to whether this project is now viable to be transferred to the private sector.
“The private sector will improve on the efficiency and bring down the cost of production as well as provide the opportunity to expand the variety of crops that can be grown here,” he said.
Moreover, Dr Kibicho alluded to the expansive nature of the whole project, saying that with full and proper utilization, Kenya will soon attain self-sustenance and become food secure. “It’s not just the 20, 000 acres that we are talking about. The entirety of the space is 1.8 million acres.
Therefore, the proper planning of this area can see it become the food basket of the country.”
The NIA now says the project is at 85% complete and it’s seeking financial support of Ksh 600 million from the Government to complete the remaining 15%.
Besides the utilization of installed irrigation infrastructure, the NIA has hived off 10 acres for a demonstration farm where crops including bananas, mangoes, cashew nuts, citrus, palm and pineapples have been planted on five acres.