An Israeli firm contracted to develop a 10,000-acre model farm at the Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme will complete its work in March 2016, opening part of the one-million-acre scheme to farmers.
Green Arava chief executive officer Barak Tamir said work on the model farm was within schedule.
“We are progressing well and we expect to complete the model farm by next year March,” said Mr Tamir.
The firm won the Sh14 billion contract to develop the model farm to be used as a demonstration block for the entire scheme.
So far, only 500 acres is under maize which was planted in April this year. The project, part of the Jubilee government’s economic blueprint, was supposed to be complete by 2017.
But the project has fallen behind schedule mainly because of limited budgetary allocation from the government, which is also funding the scheme, and weather challenges that delayed planting.
Heavy rains in March, which coincided with the planting season, delayed its development as machines could not move on the slippery fields.
“This is an irrigation, not rain-fed, project, and as such, there was no need for us to plant when it was raining, hence the delays,” said Mr Tahir.
Israel ambassador to Kenya Yahel Villan said his government would continue to help Kenya acquire the best farming technology to boost yields and make Kenya a food secure country.
“We will partner with Kenya, offering the latest technology used in Israel to help the country to become food secure in the continent,” said Mr Villan.
The Israeli government has so far pledged to fund training of Kenyans on best irrigation practices to boost food production.
The ambassador, speaking at a breakfast meeting with journalists yesterday, announced that his country will be hosting Israel- Kenya agribusiness forum from September 7-8.
Green Arava has procured milling equipment from South Africa which is expected in the country any time from now.
This comes at a time when the farm is preparing for the maiden harvest early next month from the 500 acres that have been planted.
Phase two of the project, which targets 200,000 acres, will commence as soon as the model farm is completed next year, while phase three is expected to put the entire acreage.
Galana, a Sh260 billion project, is a public-private partnership. The government is expected to provide infrastructure services and the private investors to plant crops and set up processing plants.