Tana River: Reviving the collapsed rice farming in Tana Delta

The government has begun reviving the Tana Delta Irrigation project for rice production, which stalled more than 10 years ago. Already Tana River Development Authority (TARDA) who are the custodians of the project completed the development of the intake at Kitere and the desilting of the canal providing water at the Sailoni rubber dam.

Further, the authorities rehabilitated primary and secondary canals providing water to the paddy fields and preparations are going on in 100 acres to begin rice production.

The Tana Delta irrigation project has the capacity to produce 12,000 ha of rice and to achieve that TARDA intends to engage the local communities and only play a facilitator and advisory role.

Hundreds of farmers within the Tana Delta are set to benefit once the project begins and residents commended the government for reviving the project and asked the authorities to speed up the process as it will help create job opportunities and address food insecurity.

Golo Abdalla, a resident of Bandi village said the project will not benefit the area residents but the whole country. Abdalla said when the project was in operation life was really good as many people got an income and educated their children.

“Residents here have benefitted a lot because the income they used to get is the one they used to buy goats and cattle and uplift their livelihood,” he said.

David Levi, from Hewani village, said since the project collapsed life has been tough for many jobless residents. Levi, a father of three children in the university said life has been tough but the revived project will transform many lives.

“Currently I have one child who is out of school because of fees since I have no source of income which used to come from this project,” he said.

Arid And Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) Principal Secretary Idris Dakota toured the project on Saturday to inspect the progress and was taken to Kitere at the main intake, the rubber dam, and at the farm where clearance is going on for rice production to begin.

Dakota was accompanied by the TARDA managing director Liban Roba Duba and national government officials. He said they would use an integrated approach where they will engage local communities in the project to do rice farming.

In an interview with journalists during the tour, the PS said the government was committed to reviving the project and ensuring all the mechanical processes are back in operation.

“When we come in our initiative is to revive this project and feed into item number one of the government’s agenda which is agriculture and food security so TARDA, as you have seen, has the potential to feed not only this county but the entire country and the globe,” he said.

Dakota said the focus is to improve on the mechanization part, structures around and the livelihoods of the community around.

He urged the Tana Delta community where he also hails from to support the project adding that as a government will engage all communities, stakeholders, other ministries and the county government.

“We need to come up with a collaborative framework that will help us achieve this objective,” he said.

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