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Mwea rice farmers want State to fastrack completion of water canals

Rice farmers under the Mwea irrigation scheme are appealing to the government to facilitate speedy completion of the canals and feeders to enable them cultivate rice as anticipated in the Thiba dam project.

The farmers led by Murimi Githinji, from Ng’othi area of Mwea constituency said that theconstruction of the canals stalled three years ago.

Jane Wambui, another farmer who hails from Mutithi Ward, said that farmers in the area are looking forward to getting water into their farms.

Wambui said that the prolonged dry season was a threat to food security in the area while rice farmers may incur losses as a result of dried crop.

She said that their only hope is the completion of the canals to take water to their farms.

The canals are expected to serve 10,000 acres intended for expansion in Mutithi ward.

The canals take water from Thiba River whose supply is now expected to be steady throughout the seasons following the commissioning of Thiba Dam.

The newly constructed Thiba dam will enable the irrigation of an extra 10,000 acres of land from the current 30,060 acres under Mwea irrigation scheme.

It will also enable farmers to produce rice for two seasons instead of the current one season, almost doubling production.

Data from the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) indicate that increased land under irrigation is expected to produce an extra 66,000 metric tons of rice annually, up from the current 114 metric tons.

This will thus earn the farmers around Ksh. 14 to16 billion annually up from the current Ksh. 9 billion they earn from their produce.

Kenya produces about 200,000 tons of rice annually which is half of the consumption demand. With the dam, Kirinyaga County, which produces 80 percent of all the rice produced in Kenya, is expected to narrow the supply gap.

The Ksh. 7.8 billion dam project has the capacity to hold 15.5 cubic meters of water and it is the largest single project to have been implemented in the county.

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