Israeli company, Green Arava, contracted to set up the model 10,000-acre farm in Galana Kulalu has agreed to speed up work to have the farm up and running before Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu visit.
Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa has expressed optimism that the Israeli firm is on course with the project.
Wamalwa whe spoke during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s state visit to Israel said increasing acreage under irrigation will help Kenya realize food security.
“We have signed the necessary agreement to provide financing through an Israeli bank which provides enough finances to complete the project ahead of schedule,” Wamalwa said.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said with 70 per cent of the country under arid conditions, “Kenya could not afford to rely on rain fed agriculture.”
Legislators on the delegation have thrown their weight behind the project after they reversed their decision on the Galana Kulalu irrigation project after touring Israel.
National Assembly Committee on Livestock and Agriculture said the Israel firm contracted to cultivate the 10,000 acres of the model firm had proven it had capacity to deliver the project.
The Committee Vice Chair Kareke Mbiuki that they were satisfied with the capacity of Green Arava after touring their establishments in Israel.
“The company has the capacity and technology to implement the project, we are one hundred per cent behind it because it will make Kenya food secure,” Mbiuki said.
The Galana project is expected to cut Kenya’s reliance on rain-fed agriculture that is blamed for the perennial food shortage by employing technology to cut cost of food production.
The government wants to develop 500,000 acres of the vast Galana/Kulalu ranch that covers an area of 1.78million acres but with the irrigation potential estimated to be 1.2million acres.
The Member of Parliament said the committee had reservations to the project due to the lack of clear information but that the misconceptions have been put to rest.
Instead, the committee has decided to throw its weight behind new plans proposed by the Water and Irrigation Ministry to speed up its implementation and slash costs by half.
According to Mr Wamalwa, the cost will come down to Sh7.2 billion from the initial Sh14 billion by leaving out a milling plant as well as the cost of maintaining it.
Wamalwa said the government will focus on irrigation and let the private sector invest in the other utilities.
The committee said they were satisfied by the review, stating that it had cut off sideshows that diverted the government from the core business of irrigation.
“We were concerned about the costs, things like international schools and milling plants will come later through the framework of the Public Private Partnerships rather than from the tax payer,” Mbiuki said.
About 100 young Kenyans will get free training on irrigation engineering in Israel every year for six years, with the same training model being replicated in various Kenyan institutions of higher learning