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Wei Wei irrigation scheme to be handed over to pastoralists

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Michael Loktare, an Okra farmer at the Wei Wei irrigation scheme, in West Pokot County. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) is set to hand over the third phase of the Wei Wei irrigation scheme to pastoralists in West Pokot County, boosting their efforts of diversifying into agriculture.

The scheme, to be managed by Wei Wei Co-operative Society is expected to empower hundreds of pastoralist families to invest in subsistence and cash crop farming.

KVDA Managing Director Sammy Naporos Thursday disclosed that the plan was meant to empower the local communities to manage the projects through co-operative societies to attain sustainability after the tenure of development Partners and Italian Cooperation expires.

“We have handed over the management of other multi-million projects like Katilu and Loyapat in Turkana County to cooperative societies after they proved successful,” Mr Naporos said.

He said the Italian government has pumped Sh280 million in Wei Wei Phase three, a 325-hectare irrigation project, to purchase 10 tractors and modernise sprinkler machines.

“We have set aside Sh15 million for repairs of the water intake and partnered with the co-operative societies to improve infrastructure in the irrigation scheme,” Mr Naporos added.

He disclosed that Sh34 million has been allocated for Chepkum irrigation scheme in Marakwet East sub-county and Sh25 million for the revival of other stalled irrigation projects in Kerio Valley region.

The Wei Wei irrigation scheme has received massive funding from the Italian government to support phase III of the project to irrigate 325 hectares of land and allow more than 600 pastoralist families to invest in subsistence and cash crop farming.

According to Wei Wei Farmers Association manager Mark Meut, the members earned over Sh40 million from last season harvest. The farmers cultivate crops like maize, sorghum, bananas, fruits and vegetables that have improved the livelihoods of the pastoralists.

Mr Meut disclosed that more than 100,000 farmers in West Pokot and Turkana counties have invested in crop production techniques under furrow and drip irrigation following the return of relative peace in the region that has witnessed protracted cattle rustling and banditry activities.