NIB has harvested 103,000 bags of maize from the first phase of the model farm where 5,000 acres have been put under the crop. The Government through the National Irrigation Board (NIB) is using irrigation to ensure intensification of production and the opening of new projects in the arid and semi-arid areas to achieve food security. The Galana/ Kulalu Food Security Project that is being undertaken in two counties, Kilifi and Tana River. The Ministry of Devolution is set to release KES 90 million to buy maize from the Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme for famine relief as shortage of the commodity hits theKenyan  market.

So far, the scheme has sold 23,000 bags of maize to the treasury for distribution to Tana River, Kilifi and Kwale counties and an additional 24,000 bags for Lamu, TaitaTaveta and Mombasa regions. The bags are sold at a subsidized rate of 3000KES down from 3500KES.One of its intended results is to bring down the price of maize, Kenya’s staple food. A 2 kg packet of maize meal has been rising in the country since the drought conditions started in 2014 and currently retails at 119 KES.

In Galana, the target is toimmediately develop 500,000 acres of the vast Galana/Kulalu ranch which covers 1.75million acres but with theirrigation potential estimated to be 1.2million acres.

The ongoing biting drought has pushed the Treasury to releaseKES16 billion to mitigate losses occasioned by severe weather, even as it warns of a worsening situation in days with the number of those affected projected to rise from 1.5 million to two million.

Implementation phases

Due to complexity and the sheer scale of the project, implementation is being carried out in three phases.NIB says 85 per cent of the infrastructural works have been completed in the first phase of the 10,000 acre model farm. Seventy five percent of the KES 7.2 billion budget for the first phase of the project has been absorbed.

Phase I entails the establishment of a 10,000 acre model farm to demonstrate the use of high water use efficiency technologies which will be replicated in the rest of the irrigation area in the project.The second phase will see the development of a 2 billion m3 dam and main conveyance system for 500,000 acres. While Phase III will see the development of major roads, airport, railway lines and other supporting infrastructure.

The Model Farm is located in the coastal lowlands. The topography of the area is largely flat.The slope of the site ranges from 0 to 4.4 percent. The largest area has slope values in the rangeof 0.0% to 0.2 %, 0.5% to 1.0% and 01% to 2% which covers 40.39%, 43.32% and 12.57 %respectively of the total land in. The nature of topography makes the project area suitable formechanized farming since the equipment used move about without challenges in the terrain. This lowslopes make construction of water conveyance system less challenging.

The Model Farm is designed and planned to have various enterprises including maize, horticultural and vegetables production. Thirteen varieties of maize seed were planted in the initial 500 acres. The best performing variety was Pannar 7M-81 producing thirty nine 90kg bags per acre while the lowest yielding variety was DCK80-31 & H513 producing five 90kg bags per acre. After harvesting the first maize crop from the initial 500 acres, 770 tonnes of maize was realized and transported to the National Cereals and Produce Board Depots in Voi and Nairobi. The six best performing varieties have been planted in the next 500 acres.
Bush clearing in the meantime has already been completed. In the model farm, the irrigation methods used is a combination of overhead irrigation using centre pivots and drip irrigation system.

Table below shows a summary of the model farm enterprises.


Model Farm Enterpises

Size of Land


Maize production under Centre pivot



Maize   production under drip



Open field vegetables under drip



Greenhouse vegetables under drip





The Model Farm is planned to have 1,560 hectares under centre pivot (CP) irrigation on maize only requiring 24 CP units. This will be powered by electrical motors with fertilizers solution that will be injected into the irrigation water at the inlet. The design daily application depth is 6mm/day and the CP system is designed for application of 6 mm during 22 hours of one complete revolution.

Drip irrigation will be on maize, open field vegetables and greenhouses vegetables covering atotal of 5,254 acres of land. A total of ten greenhouses each measuring approximately two ha with dimensions of 206.6 m x 100m will be required for the proposed 20 ha land forgreenhouses. The area will be divided into two identical blocks of five greenhouses each.Each block will have all the components needed. That includes main pipes, fertigation, boosting system and controls.

This project brings certain benefits to the community as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility of the National Irrigation Board in the areas it is doing its projects. Three water pans are to be constructed for communities in Tana River County and two for communities in Kilifi County. Moreover, Green Houses and open drip irrigation systems will be provided to communities in Kilifi. Currently 10 greenhouses have been installed in Kilifi County. Further, the local community has been given preference for all jobs in the implementation of the Model Farm.

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