The State Department of Livestock is targeting the Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme for growing pasture to mitigate the effects of the drought that have seen the milk price shoot to a record high.
Livestock PS Harry Kimtai says his department is in talks with the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) on the possibility of growing fodder at the vast farm, should maize prove to be a challenge.
He said the land would be ideal for irrigated pasture that will play a key role in addressing the shortage of fodder.
“We have been in talks with the National Irrigation Authority that if the Galana-Kulalu may not be suitable for maize, we can do irrigated pasture.
“Our proposal from the department of livestock is to use it for irrigated pasture which can do very well in that region,” said Mr Kimtai.
The PS said they have asked the NIB if the scheme is not viable for maize, which is the only major crop being cultivated in the area, then they can use it for the growing of fodder.
The price of milk has so far hit a high of Sh60 for a fresh packet of 500ml from a low of Sh45 in January on the back of failed rains in the last two seasons.
In the initial plan, the government wanted to use the Galana farm for the cultivation of different crops including the keeping of livestock.
The PS said other vast lands that the government owns in areas such as Isiolo, Samburu, Mandera, Lodwar and Wajir will be given to private investors for growing pasture for livestock to avert animal deaths that are occasioned by drought.
“We want to bring in people who can use this land for the production of pasture so that the pastoralists will not have to move to other regions such as Ethiopia and Uganda in search of fodder,” he said.
The Galana/Kulalu Food Security Project started eight years ago with the intention of opening up more than 1.2 million acres of land belonging to the Agricultural Development Corporation and putting it under irrigation.
The government then decided to commence the project by way of a 10,000-acre pilot farm, with over 8,000 acres having been cultivated so far.
The government plans to open up the rest of the farm under a public-private partnership where individual investors will be allowed to do the farming.
Under the PPP, NIA will offer water infrastructure for interested investors and lease the land for them to produce the crop of their choice.