Kenya gets billions for irrigation

Kenya has secured a KSh6.3 billion from the African Development Bank (AFDB), for use in the irrigation of at least 7,400 acres of arable land in six years.
Of the amount, KSh4billion was given as a loan that will be repaid in 25 years at 2 per cent interest per annum, while KSh2.3billion was awarded as a grant that will complement the credit facility in boosting food security for about 30,000 households.
Bringing more land under cultivation out of the 70 per cent arid and semi arid land would be an upfront strategy to mitigate hunger, with New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) statistics showing that in Africa 12 people die of famine in one minute.
Potential 
The Alliance of Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) estimates that Kenya can triple current rain-fed production if 50 per cent of arid and semi arid land is put under irrigation.
This will see the country produce surplus food and seal importation holes, while strengthening its export capacity.
Speaking during the signing of the loan agreement, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said small scale irrigation and value addition projects would benefit 11 semi arid counties.
"At least 300km access roads, water conservation facilities and farmers education are among the strategies that would help the country realise the irrigation dream," the minister said.
The AFDB Regional Director for the East Africa Resource Centre, Gabriel Negatu, said the project, which targets smallholder farmers who produce about 70 per cent of food, will reverse the sad food and nutrition situation in the country.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network and Drought Management Authority estimate that 65 per cent of the country receives annual rainfall of between 200-600mm, which is insufficient for major crops such as maize and beans.
Increased yield
On average, maize, which is Kenya’s staple food, requires 600-800mm per year hence rendering much of the country’s land unsuitable for the crop. Last year, Kenya produced 30 million bags of maize against its consumption of 45million bags, forcing the State to import the deficit.
Counties that will benefit from this project include Kitui, Makueni, Nyandarua, Tharaka Nithi, Kajiado, Machakos, Tana River, Murang'a, Nyeri, Bomet and Meru.