The Ministry of Water will open up 5,000 acres of the Galana-Kulalu Irrigation Scheme to private companies next month under the private-public partnership (PPP) as the government scales up food production amid rising costs.
Irrigation PS, Mugambi Gitonga said several local investors have already expressed interest to commence the planting of maize in February and the ministry will allocate 5,000 acres.
This comes just weeks after President William Ruto directed the Ministry of Water to ensure that a significant portion of the scheme is put under food production by the end of this year.
“Next month we shall be giving out 5,000 acres of land to the first batch of investors at the Galana-Kulalu where they will produce maize through irrigation,” said Mr Mugambi.
This will be the first time that the government will be opening up the scheme under the PPP arrangement after many years of a false start.
The investor will be given part of the model farm that is already fitted with an irrigation system with additional 10,000 acres expected to be put under food production in the next six months from February.
The government through National Irrigation Authority (NIA) is expected to construct a dam starting next April that will see an additional 350,000 acres be put under food production.
The PS spoke on Thursday during the launch of the National Irrigation Services Strategy.
The Strategy is a key policy implementation instrument in guiding irrigation development and management in Kenya.
Water and Irrigation Cabinet secretary Alice Wahome said Kenya faces challenges in terms of food security due to perennial drought as a result of climate change and that irrigation offers the much-needed intervention.
“We are certain that irrigation offers the best intervention towards addressing these challenges.
“This strategy proposes interventions to address the challenges facing the sector and unlock the potential for irrigation to contribute to national food security and socio-economic development of this country,” she said.
Ms Wahome said Kenya has an irrigation potential of 1.9 million acres but to date, only 670,000 acres had been put under water supply through a collaborative initiative between the government and other development partners.
The strategy, she said, is aimed at putting an additional 500,000 acres under irrigation by the year 2026.
“It is envisaged that implementation of the strategy will confer benefits on the country which include an increase in agricultural production, creation of job opportunities, foreign exchange earnings and savings and economic growth in rural areas,” she said.