The Lower Nzoia Irrigation Development project funded by the World Bank is set for completion at the end of September before it is commissioned by President William Ruto.
According to the Principal Secretary of the State Department of Irrigation, Mr Ephantus Kimotho, the project once completed, will increase acreage under rice farming to 10,000 benefiting over 12,000 farmers in Busia and Siaya counties, adding that its only remaining 1.4km to connect the old canal of Bunyala rice scheme which will be completed in less than 2 months.
“We only have about 1.4km to connect to the old canal of the Bunyala scheme and it is expected to be complete by September this year so that we can decommission the old system which was using electricity making it expensive to sustain it,” said PS Kimotho.
Addressing farmers during the inspection of the project, which is approximated to cost ksh3.9 billion, Mr Kimitho challenged the county governments of Busia and Siaya to sensitize rice farmers to utilize the canal in rice production adding that there is room through the canal to expand rice farming in the region.
“I want to appeal to the county government of Busia and Siaya to embark on a sensitization program to the rice farmers to utilize the canal in rice farming because there is an opportunity to increase 10,000 more acres using the same canal in phase two,” added Mr Kimotho.
Busia County’s acting county Secretary Mr Elijah Mwaro, representing the governor Dr Paul Otuoma, noted that the Lower Nzoia Irrigation project is the pet project for the county, adding that the governor has affirmed his commitment to collaborate with the national government to make sure that the project is successful, which will contribute in enhancing production and food security
“Lower Nzoia irrigation project is Governor Otuoma’s pet project and among his flagship projects is food security and value addition and he fully supports the project,” said Mr Mwaro.
Budalang’i Member of Parliament Mr Raphael Wanjala lauded the national government for its commitment to ensuring that the project is completed and benefits the area residents.
Mr Wanjala requested the government to consider putting up a rice milling machine within the scheme to enable the farmers to process the rice, a move that will cut off the middlemen who are ripping big from farmers.
“This project is important to Kenyans because maize has become very expensive and is making us fight in the street, therefore, we need to look for an alternative source of food and I believe rice will do,” Mr Wanjala said.
The Magombe rice cooperative society chairperson Mr Christopher Gunyi is confident that the project will boost rice farming in the region which in return will increase production.
The project commenced in 2018 to mitigate perennial flooding in Budalangi and also address food security through it, 8,400 registered rice farmers from Siaya County and 4,200 from Bunyala in Busia County will benefit from the project.