MPs set deadline for Galana farm

House Committee wants model farm completed by September and handed over to private sector.

Saturday February 13 2016

Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa with members of the parliamentary committee on agriculture during a visit of the Galana0Kulalu Food Security Project in Tana River County. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP.

Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa with members of the parliamentary committee on agriculture during a visit of the Galana0Kulalu Food Security Project in Tana River County. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP. NATION MEDIA GROUP

By OTIATO GUGUYU
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Members of Parliament want the 10,000 acre demonstration farm under the Galana irrigation scheme completed by September this year and handed over to the private sector.

The National Assembly committee on Livestock and Agriculture who had suspended the project last year, said it supports the reviewed work plan by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation.

Under Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, the project has been reviewed phasing out the some of its components to cut costs down to Sh7.2 billion from Sh14 billion.

Some of the components that have been omitted include, maize milling factory, school, police station, greenhouses, vegetable packing and cold rooms.

“We suspended the project last year, but the new team has gone back to the drawing board and assured us they can deliver. Being a model farm we thought they should have moved with speed,” Parliament’s Agriculture committee chairman Adan Noor said when the MPs visited the farm on Friday.

(READ: Kenya set to gain from food project)

Since the project was initiated it has cost taxpayers Sh2.5 billion with 1,000 acres coming under irrigation.

Last September, 770 tonnes of maize was harvested from the initial 500 acres and transported to the National Cereals and Produce Board Depots in Voi and Nairobi for further drying and storage.

INSTALL PUMPS

According to the new plan, the National Irrigation Board will harvest the second block of 500 acres next month then plant two 500-acre blocks between March and June and install 12 centre pivots complete with the associated pipelines to serve 2000 acres by September this year. Also to be installed are five vertical pumps to cover 2,500 acres and a further three pumps that will cover 1,500 acres.

“What we want is the implementation of the demonstration farm to asses the production costs and hand over by September,” Mr Noor said.

The Agriculture Committee chair said they had been concerned that the implementation of the model irrigation farm had taken longer than expected.

He also said the committee was keen to assess the cost-effectiveness of the project stating that they will review the project based on results of the second harvest expected next month.

The model farm has been testing 13 varieties of maize and Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa say they produced varying results with the best performing variety producing 39 bags per acre while the lowest yielding variety produced 5 bags per acre.

The six best varies have been selected and planted in the next 500 acres and Mr Wamalwa said they will be narrowing down on three varieties in the next cycle.

According to NIB, the total cost per acre of the first crop was Sh33,000 and based on the highest yielding variety the cost of production per 90 kg bag was Sh846.

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