By Ruth Mutegi
The National Irrigation Board has released 24,000 bags of maize harvested at the Galana Irrigation Scheme to be distributed to drought stricken in Taita Taveta and Kwale Counties.
NIB Chief Engineer Mwangi Thuita says the State Department of Special programmes has purchased 50,000 bags of maize from NIB worth Ksh 90 Million with 25,000 bags already distributed to counties in the coast region in the first phase in December 2016.
“The people of coast region were promised that they will be the first beneficiaries of the Galana Irrigation Scheme maize, we are determined to ensure that happens”, says Eng. Thuita.
It is unclear where the remaining 1000 bags will be taken.
Taita Taveta and Kwale Counties have been among the worst hit by the drought, and while there has been rain reported in some parts of the country, the outcome is not instant and these regions still need relief food. The relief maize which has been at the National Cereals and Produce Board Depot in Voi has undergone quality tests to ensure it is free of aflatoxin and safe for human consumption.
“We cannot distribute maize that has not been tested. The maize from Galana is of the highest quality and there has been no cases of food poisoning or aflatoxin reported so far from the first phase of this relief project”, added Eng. Thuita.
Each Sub County in Taita Taveta and Kwale is expected to relieve 500 bags of maize from the 24,000 bags being distributed today, except for Lunga Lunga sub County which will get 1,000 bags due to the high number of residents who need assistance.
So far, the Galana Irrigation Scheme has produced 130,000 bags of maize from 3,000 acres, a figure NIB says is commendable considering the first harvest at the scheme failed due to the fact that various maize varieties were being tested to ascertain which ones are best suited for the scheme.
Besides the 50,000 bags that have been purchased by the State Department of Special programmes, the Strategic Grain Reserve has also purchased 17,000 bags at a cost of Ksh 17 Million.
“We have enough maize at the Voi NCBP depot, we are working with the State Department of Special Programmes to ensure that this maize gets to the people who need it”, notes Eng. Thuita.