The State plans to have completed 90 irrigation schemes by March 2016 so as to increase food production to feed the growing population.40 more schemes have also been designed and will be implemented starting next year under a public-private partnership pact while 70 others are being designed, bringing the total to 200 schemes.
This new approach will see the Government taking charge of mega and national irrigation schemes while the county government will handle small irrigation schemes of less than 1,000 acres if the Irrigation Bill 2015 becomes law. The national government will monitor the projects to ensure that farmers do not suffer if the irrigation schemes collapse.
National Irrigation Board
The government drafted the Irrigation Bill 2015 to provide legal framework to guide development and management of irrigation projects across the country. In 2010, the same bill was rejected by the National Irrigation Board (NIB) board management after the government failed to involve them at the drafting stage.
The new bill which now involves all stakeholders, proposes the conversion of NIB to National Irrigation Development Service that will take up roles for the agency, absorb staff and give it more mandates in relation to irrigation matters.
NIB launched the first water harvesting project in Naivasha to help farmers harvest rain water. It has tapped water to feed dams at Hindu Irrigation Scheme, a project for small scale farmers, and has been constructing dams in 47 counties and installing pipes.
Current national irrigation schemes include Mwea, Hola, Pekerra, Bunyara, Ahero, West Kano and Bura irrigation schemes. The State is also establishing a million-acre Galana-Kulalu Irrigation Scheme in the Tana Delta.
Last week, government announced that initial planting of maize in the one-million-acreGalana-Kulalu irrigation scheme took off.Kenya has the ability to irrigate three million acres of land annually, but currently only a quarter is under irrigation, with farmers relying on rain-fed agriculture.