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KVDA launches Phase 3 of Weiwei Irrigation Scheme to boost food production and security

Farmers at the Weiwei Irrigation scheme got a major boost after the Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) operationalised the one billion shillings Phase 3 project for food production and security through irrigation in the semi-arid area.

The authority with funds from the Italian Cooperation agency on Saturday issued farm machinery including three tractors for the scheme.

Phase three, in Sigor Constituency, Pokot Central Sub County will support 600 households was launched in 2016 by former President Uhuru Kenyatta and President William then as Deputy failed to take off due to some challenges of covid 19 pandemic and the bad climatic conditions in the region.

The 325 hectares project aims at addressing food security in the semi-arid region.

KVDA Managing Director Sammy Naporos said that one of the components of phase 3 which is civil works took a bit of time.

“Phase 3 has now fully been operational. Phase one was completed in 2018. Each family owns a module of 1200 acres of land. Weiwei integration program has been the bread basket of West Pokot,Turkana, Baringo and Trans-Nzoia .The products from the scheme go up to Kitale and Eldoret towns,” he said.

The MD noted that the project is one of the transformational social-economic programs in terms of food and human security.

“The larger challenge of Kerio Valley is a result of shared resources and we have conflict. The expansion of the scheme by additional 325 acres will reduce conflict among communities through farming which has an economic impact on social development,” he said.

He pointed out that last year; farmers at the scheme harvested 1500 metric tons of maize translating to KES 75 million after selling to Kenya Seed Company.

“We expect to get 3500 metric tons of maize after the additional 325 acres. With the doubling of the scheme, we expect to get 150 million shillings. We want to expand the scheme because there is a lot of water from the Weiwei River and rivers from the Cherangangy hills. We are doing conservation of the catchment areas to sustain the flow of the rivers. We want to expand the scheme to Masol, Tiaty and Baringo areas,” he said.

He said about 3000 people get employed at the scheme and it has become a game changer.

“We expect by the end of May, farmers will be able to harvest the first. We are going to work across the clock with agro consultation to accelerate and fast track the process for residents to benefit,” he said.

The last part was the program which acquisitioned the importation of 11 farm implements.

“The tractors were 9 and we have received 3 in the batch. By the end of March, the entire farm will be operational and farmers will benefit from the long-awaited phase 3 program,” he said.

KVDA Chairperson Mark Chesergon Weiwei irrigation was a successful project in the region.

“This region has been faced with drought and needs proper attention for residents to produce food. We want to produce more crops in the region. We have also planted fruits for food security,” he said.

Weiwei farmers association Chairman Mark Meut lauded the Government and the Italian Government for funding the project saying the scheme has more than 1000 acres of land and will help in food security and wealth creation.

“The project has helped us in paying fees for our children. Phase three will solve the allocation of plots challenge,” he said.

Stephen Tingoria, a beneficiary of the scheme said that phase one and two has helped them a lot.

“We need phases 3 and 4. Initially, we were using furrow which had many challenges but now the sprinkler technology has helped us a lot,” he said.

He said the scheme has reduced banditry and cattle rustling activities in the region.

“We plant maize and millet for seeds and food,” he said.

David Lotudo, a farmer, said that phases 1 and 2 had some challenges because of the larger families depending on a single farm.

“Phase three will increase production to avert conflict. We have a lot of water and land to produce food and we have realized development,” he said.

He said that they are expecting more yields to shun relying on relief food.

‘We expect to get one million kilograms of maize,” he said.

West Pokot County executive member of Agriculture Wilson Longronyang said that permanent Rivers like Turkwel, Muruny, Weiwei and Kerio can feed the whole country.

‘The rainfall in the region is unpredictable and erratic. We need rain-fed agriculture to help us. Weiwei irrigation scheme has improved the region’s economy,” he said.

Luigi Luminari, Director of rural development and food security at the Italian Cooperation said the project will change the lives of area residents.

“We shall have a huge social-economic impact. This is one of the best approaches to climate change adaptation,” he said.

He noted that Phase Three has started paying back.

“This is one of the two the best projects in Africa in terms of natural resources management in semi-arid areas. We are doing environmental conservation because the greatest risk is environmental degradation,” he said.

Italian cooperation agency Country Director of agri-consulting spa Damiano Terraso said that they will do capacity building to farmers and supply agricultural machinery and equipment.

“The machinery should be used by ultimate beneficiaries,” he said.

The Weiwei irrigation scheme which is under irrigation started in 1984 by the Italian Government after drought hit Kenya has been going on for more than 35 years.

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