Maize production from the Galana-Kulalu irrigation project is now five times the current national average, highlighting the country’s capacity to address maize shortage and reduce poverty in the country.
Water and irrigation Principal Secretary Patrick Nduati told reporters in Malindi that at 31 bags per acre produced at the Vision 2030 project three times a year, is more than 18 bags produced once a year from Trans Nzoia, the country’s food basket.
The PS said, with projections of 40 bags per acre per season, shows the viability of the project in fixing the shortage of the commodity. “We use Ksh 15 billion to import maize and other foods annually. Production at this model farm will be able to meet between five and 10 percent of this gap. Consequently, when we hit 100,000 bags, we will not need to import the commodity,” said Nduati.
Upto 2,500 acres of the 10,000 acre model farm are now under maize plantation. Three varieties of maize under test at the farm have shown potential of yielding beyond 40 bags per acre.
The Water Ministry said the project needs Ksh 9 billion by March 2017 to fully install infrastructure on the model farm that is now 70 percent complete.
Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat Director General, Dr. Julius Muia said communities are now able to meet basic needs pay fees for school going children, settle medical bills and put aside funds for alternative investments .
“Incidences of illegal trade or income generating activities like poaching and charcoal burning have reduced significantly, to highlight huge impact of the project on locals” said Dr. Muia.
Dr Muia said better yielding maize varieties projects a food secure nation that would significantly reduce the country’s reliance on maize imports from neighbouring countries in East Africa.
“More production of maize will avert the cycle of starvation in the area and neighbouring counties. The success of this model farm shows we are headed towards achieving a food secure nation,” said Dr. Muia.
National Irrigation Board (NIB) has said locals from Tana River and Kilifi Counties will benefit from more than 60 percent of the harvest from the 2,500 acres to reach close to 500,000 people that were reportedly facing starvation in the Coastal region.