A US$ 160m dam is yet to be constructed in Mwea, Kenya by The National Irrigation Board in Kenya (NIB) that will see farmers diversify from growing rice as the major cash crop in the region.
The Mwea Irrigation Development Project Regional Coordinator, Mr. Julius Mutuaruchiu confirmed the news and said that the project of the new dam will be funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) which promised to provide US$ 100m with the government chipping in the remaining US$ 60m balance.
“The overall effect of the project will be an added advantage to the farmers as there will be an addition of a considerable proportion of food to the country’s food basket since it will enable farmers to diversify to other crops,” said Mr. Mutuaruchiu.
The new dam is anticipated to generate enough water that will be used for farming and expand the area of the existing Mwea irrigation scheme to 6,600 acres. It will further establish a reservoir that will have the ability of holding 15.6 million cubic metres of water for the expanded irrigation project which will enable farmers to plant crops twice a year.
According to reports, under public-private venture, the dam will take 45 months to be complete while laying infrastructure is expected to take 35 months to complete. In this venture, the government provides irrigation infrastructure while private investors plant and manage the crops.
Economic Survey 2016 states that Kenya’s expenditure on irrigation development grew from US$ 8m in 2012 to US$ 130m in 2015, underscoring the importance the government has attached to the irrigation sector.
National Irrigation Board (NIB) is a state corporation through the Irrigation whose objective is to provide for the development, control and improvement of irrigation schemes, for purposes incidental thereto and connected therewith. Currently, the Board manages seven national irrigation schemes and stations with four operational research stations. The Board also has two rice mills in Eastern and Western regions in Mwea Rice Mills (MRM) and Western Kenya Rice Mills (WKRM).