Written By Ramadhan Kambi 📝
There is a new ray of hope to the residents of Tana River County after the government begun reviving the multi-billion Tana delta irrigation scheme which collapsed after the main intake was blocked as a result of the diversion of River Tana.
Currently, authorities are sourcing for Sh1.6 billion to complete the entire revival process which will upon its implementation, will see the area begin large-scale rice production of 12,000 acres.
The first phase of the project which includes the opening up of a new intake channel is complete and water is now able to reach the farms.
Cabinet Secretary for Trade, EAC, and Regional Development Betty Maina together with PS Belio Kipsang, and the Secretary for Regional Development together with other top Ministry officials toured the project being managed by Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority to oversee the work being done.
Ms. Maina visited the new Kitere Intake channel for the Tana delta Irrigation project which was developed at a cost of Ksh35 million, then she was taken to the Rubber Dam intake of the farm and the rice milling plants.
She told the media at the rice milling plant after the tour that the government is committed to reviving the irrigation project which is key in addressing food security and in line with the big four agenda.
“It’s time to restore farming in this area and also milling, but the other thing which is evident is that even as we wait for our rice development to be restarted this factory with a little bit of maintenance has a capacity to mill for other corporations so we need to get it running,” she said.
She said the milling plant requires Sh5 million to revive in its current technology but for it to be fully revived in the latest technology it would need KSh70 million.
Once it’s in operation the CS said it would be possible to get the private sector to join in and partner with them.
The Managing Director of TARDA Liban Duba told journalists that they require Sh1.6 billion to completely revive the project but revealed that it would be done in phases due to financial constraints.
He said they began with the intake to enable water to flow back again as it would enable the farming activities to begin.
“One of the key challenges was the water, the water is back now the other challenge is community engagement which we have done now, desolation process and construction work has been done with full community engagement,” he said.
Mr. Duba said the government would play a much more facilitative role in terms of infrastructure extension services, training, and desertification among others and leave the rest to private sector Community-based organizations among other community groups to do the actual work.
The MD said the project Kitere channel was 36 kilometers long lying in 17 villages with a population of 35,000 people.
He said the project will be able to irrigate a 12,000-acre farm of rice though initially, the authority managed to irrigate only 4200 acres.
“This beginning phase with the support of the government we have been able to put in Sh. 35 million to develop the intake at the Kitere Bell mouth and also to desilt the earlier phases of the channel this is the beginning phase there will be a need for subsequent investment but this will be enough to start the process,” he said.
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