Counties to benefit from Sh6.3 billion for irrigation farming

Kenya has signed a Sh6.3 billion financial facility to aid irrigation and agricultural activities in 11 counties.

Friday February 5 2016

African Development Bank (AFDB) director for the East Africa Resource Centre Gabriel Negatu (left) with National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich during the signing of a multi-billion loan for the food initiative executed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries on February 4, 2016 in Nairobi. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA |

African Development Bank (AFDB) director for the East Africa Resource Centre Gabriel Negatu (left) with National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich during the signing of a multi-billion loan for the food initiative executed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries on February 4, 2016 in Nairobi. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By EDWIN OKOTH
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Kenya has signed a Sh6.3 billion financial facility to aid irrigation and agricultural activities in 11 counties.

The financing from the African Development Bank comprises Sh4 billion loan and Sh2.3 billion grant and will be used to fund small-scale irrigation activities among others meant to enhance the country’s food security.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich on Thursday said the funds are given under favourable conditions from the bank with Kenya having been rebased to a lower mid income economy.

“This is the first project to benefit from the non-concessional AfDB window after Kenya attained eligibility.

Compared to other external sources, which have shorter periods, we are receiving a 25 year-term loan at about 2 per cent interest and with a grant component to it.

The challenge is now for the implementers of this plan to ensure we complete the projects within the required period to avoid paying extra interest due to delays in completion,” Mr Rotich said in Nairobi.

COUNTIES TO BENEFIT

The Small Scale Irrigation and Value Addition Project will be carried out in Kitui, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, Nyandarua, Murang’a, Kajiado, Nyeri, Machakos, Tana River, Bomet and Meru counties.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries will be the key implementer of the initiative that will see 12 irrigation schemes rolled out on close to 3,000 hectares of land.

The plan includes the construction of 300 kilometres of access roads, post-harvesting crop storage facilities, water conservation and improved value chains.

Farmer organisations will also be strengthened with training done for target producers.

IMPROVE LIVES

AfDB Regional Director for the East Africa Resource Centre Gabriel Negatu said the six-year project will be transformative to the lives of several households in targeted areas.

“Through this project, 30,000 households including 90,000 children will benefit from better nutrition.

Further, average household incomes are expected to rise effectively contributing to poverty eradication,” he said.

Although the role of the National government was clearly laid out, it was not immediately clear how the devolved units would be involved with the Mr Rotich saying he had planned a meeting with governors on Friday to outline modalities of implementing projects with such funding.

A similar project on medical equipment last year caused a major row between the national government and the county counterparts.

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