Thousands of residents from Murang’a County are set to benefit from a multi-million shilling irrigation project that will boost food production and spur development. The project, which is part of the national Sh1 million irrigation project shall be implemented in the lower parts of the county, which is a dry stretch of Murang’a. The irrigation project shall be funded and managed by the Tana River Development Authority (Tarda).
According to the area Governor Mwangi wa Iria, the county has the potential in food production but it lacks adequate water for irrigation. Mwangi said once the project is complete the farmers shall engage in horticultural farming to unlock the agricultural potential of the area. The governor added the county government shall set aside funds to rehabilitate 25 more water pans in the area to boost the project.
“We are dedicated towards unleashing the agricultural potential in the county so that the locals can get adequate food for both consumption and selling,” he said. Mwangi said the dams, which were dug by colonial administrators in 1950s, have been abandoned for decades despite their potential toward supporting irrigation of food crops. “The locals from the lower side have been relying on relief food during the dry spells but we want to change the situation and make the area food secure” he remarked.
Among the crops set to be grown in the irrigation schemes include rice, onions, tomatoes, French beans among others. “The county government will ensure all the water reservoirs are rehabilitated and redesigned to provide drinking and irrigation waters to the neighbours within the parameter,” said Mwangi. The irrigation project whose intake has been tapped from Maragua River shall also enable the locals to benefit from hydro-power since the river has several waterfalls.
Water, Environment and Natural resources Principal secretary Dr Richard Lesiyampe said Murang’a County will benefit with Sh1.5 billion to support irrigation programmes in the lower parts of the region following identification of ideal land. He, however, urged the county government and the locals to practice water harvesting to be able to do irrigation farming even during the dry seasons.
He said climate change has changed the rainfall patterns, thus failing those who rely of rain fed agriculture. The Ps also noted that due to increased population, the water ratio has been reducing day by day and thus conservative measures are needed to enhance livelihood.