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Gov’t optimistic Kenya will be food secure through irrigation

The government is optimistic that the shift from rain-fed agriculture to irrigation as well as the use of public-private partnerships in food production will make the country’s food secure within a few years. 

The Head of the Public Service, Felix Koskei said Wednesday that Kenya has good soils and a lot of water which if well utilize would revolutionize agriculture and remove Kenya from the list of nations that are food insecure.

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He said the government was in the process of reviving and expanding existing irrigation schemes across the country to achieve food security and even export surplus food.

Koskei was speaking at the Galana/Kulalu Food Security Project in Kilifi and Tana River Counties during an inspection tour of the multi-billion project being implemented by the National Irrigation Authority alongside the private sector.

He visited a 500-acre plantation which is being implemented through the joint efforts of the National Irrigation Authority and Twiga Foods Limited where the acreage would be increased to 1,000 acres within the next few weeks and eventually up to 200,000 acres.

He said the aim of the government is to open up the over one million acres of land within the Galana/Kulalu area for food production, adding that the project that started about ten years ago is on course.

Koskei said the government would concentrate on providing infrastructure while private sector players invest in production, a policy shift he said was faster and more efficient.

“The policy of government now is, after a long time where the government was struggling to do investment and trying to do production, we are working very closely with the private sector to provide infrastructure while the private sector invests in production,” he said.

“This initiative here is a joint venture between the National Irrigation Authority and Twiga Foods which has come in a big way to do production while the authority is working on the infrastructure, and we have seen it is faster and more efficient,” he added.

Koskei, who was in the company of Irrigation Principal Secretary Ephantus Kimotho, NIA Chairman Eng. Gilbert Maluki and NIA Chief Executive Officer Charles Muasia said the government was engaging in full gear to boost production with a view to reducing the price of food in the country.

“We have other projects across the country that we are trying to revamp so that is a very short time, this country will be food secure because we have good soils and weather, and now that we are shifting from rain-fed agriculture to irrigation, we are sure that Kenya in the not distant future will be food secure and we can even start exporting to other countries,” he said.

Koskei, who later visited the Tana Delta Irrigation Project being implemented by the Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA) in Tana River County said the government was also concentrating on rice production since the country facing a rice deficit.

“As a matter of fact, Kenya is a rice deficit country and yet we have and yet we have enough land, we have resources to produce, so, we are focusing on rice because we have enough water, we have enough land and we are going to ensure that Tana alone will produce almost 50 percent to 60 percent of our consumption in this country,” he said.

He said the government would expand and improve Ahero and Mwea irrigation schemes, as well as establish Lower Kuja Irrigation Scheme.

He said his tour, which will see him visit the port of Mombasa, follows a presidential directive that certain initiatives have to be done so that the country can be food secure.

Also present on the tour were Coast Regional Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha and Kilifi County Commissioner Josphat Biwott among others.

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