The government will next month commission an additional 3,000 acres of land in Ahero and West Kano irrigation schemes for rice and horticultural production.
The Sh270 million initiative by the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) will reopen an area that has been experiencing perennial flooding following the bursting or river Nyando.
Water and Irrigation Principal Secretary Joseph Irungu said the move is part of a bigger plan to attain food security.
“This is part of the programme we have for this country as the government intends to net more farmers from Nyando and Muhoroni and scale up food production in the country,” he said.
The PS, who spoke while assessing the ongoing works at Kobongo irrigation expansion project, said irrigation is key to achieving food security which is one of the pillars of the country’s Big Four agendas.
He pointed out that the project, that taps water from river Nyando, will enhance the government’s capacity to utilise irrigation potential which currently stands at a paltry 27 per cent.
“We have the ability to expand up to 1.9 million acres of land but are currently doing 500,000 acres,” Mr Irungu said.
“We are going nearer to achieving our target of 700,000 acres by 2022, but eventually hope to hit 1.4 million acres by 2030 across the country.”
He stated that the ministry will also expand irrigation at Lower Kuja and Lower Nzoia to bring the total area under irrigation to 37,700 acres in Western Kenya.
Nyando MP Jared Okello and his Muhoroni counterpart Onyango K’oyoo who accompanied the PS said the initiative will boost food production and help tackle the problem of flooding that affects the region year in year out.
Ahero Irrigation Scheme currently produces 11,000 metric tonnes of rice per season and has a potential of doubling once expansion is complete.
Mr Irungu noted that completion of Soin Koru dam will provide a long-lasting solution to the flooding problem.
NIA chairman Joshua Toro raised concerns about the rising water levels in Lake Victoria, adding that it has consumed over 80 per cent of irrigable land in the West Kano scheme.