MACHAKOS, Kenya – The Kenyan government has commissioned a multi-million shilling irrigation scheme expected to boost food security and curb perennial hunger in the drought-prone eastern Kenya.

he Kabaa Irrigation Scheme, located in Machakos County is one of the nine irrigation schemes in seven counties of Arid and Semi Arid areas in Eastern and Rift Valley and funded by the government in collaboration with development partners at a cost of 22.8 million U.S. dollars.

The project under Small-Scale Horticulture Development Projects (SHDP, covers about 240 hectares with variety of crops under cultivation.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, who commissioned the scheme late on Saturday, stressed the government’s commitment in developing agriculture, noting that the sector is significant in the country’s economy. He encouraged farmers to work closely with agricultural extension officers and to grow drought resistant crops that will withstand inconsistent climatic fluctuations and ensure food security.

“The emphasis of these interventions is to lift communities out of hunger and poverty for good. In order to make vulnerable communities more adaptable to today’s inconsistent climate fluctuations, we encourage the growing of more tolerable crops as a measure to food security,” VP emphasized.

Musyoka said in last financial year, the government allocated 206,000 dollars to finance initiatives aimed at attaining food security. “These funds will go towards financing initiative to boost food security such as irrigated agriculture and commercialization of agricultural production. Revenue allocation to agriculture stands at 11 percent of the national budget,’ he said.

The Vice President encouraged farmers to practice irrigation farming to boost food security and alleviate perennial hunger besides generating income. Musyoka at the same time urged farmers to practice agro-forestry to meet their tree products requirement and engage in environmentally sustainable system. He commended the Kabaa community for supporting the irrigation scheme, saying that they stand to benefit a lot in enhanced food production. Musyoka urged them to intensify and diversify their farming as well as engage in value addition of their produce to maximize returns.

The Vice President also commended the Ministry of Cooperatives and Horticultural Crop Development Authority for their efforts in forming farmers produce and marketing organizations and resources mobilization. Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Gideon Ndambuki, revealed that the government has committed about 110 million dollars towards water harvesting and irrigation development under the expanded National Irrigation Program.

Ndambuki said the Ministry will this year construct 13 water pans at a cost of 11,500 dollars and 340 dams at a cost of 12 million dollars in 170 constituencies. He said currently 114,600 hectares are under irrigation of which 49, 000 hectares are managed by mall holders. (Xinhua)

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