By CONRAD ONYANGO
The newly rehabilitated Kabaa small-scale horticultural irrigation scheme is set to address poverty and food shortage in drought hit Mbiuni location of Mwala district.
Speaking during the commissioning of the scheme, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka affirmed to the area residents who will be the sole beneficiaries of the project, that they will now be able to experience increased income through enhanced farming systems. He added the project will also address current food shortages ravaging most parts of the region.
“The scheme is a revolutionary approach to eradicating food shortage, we can now feed ourselves, this project marks an end to hunger for our people” said Kalonzo.
Noting current fund allocation to the agricultural sector by the government has surpassed the 10 percent national budget allocation as per the Maputo declaration, he exuded confidence the government will be able to upscale local food security initiatives through implementation of various Agricultural projects and programmes.
“Currently the government allocation to the sector stands at 11 percent of the National budget, with the Sh 19.6 billion allocated to the sector in this financial year, the funds will go towards initiatives to boost among others irrigated agriculture and commercialization of products,” he said.
Kalonzo also urged the residents to embrace development of Water pans within their households to ensure steady supply of water in case of water shortage. He said this will tame short and unpredictable rainfall patterns in the region.
Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Gideon Ndambuki, said the project will help reduce poverty levels in the area by increasing household income for the residents through empowering all the stakeholders in the value chain.
“Farmers income will be improved by addressing bottlenecks along the value chain as we empower all stakeholders to be able to achieve and sustain increased food production,” said Ndambuki.
He at the same time said apart from water, the success of the project will depend on provision of fertilizers, seeds, development of infrastructure and provision of management skills capacity for farmers in terms of leadership, planning conflict resolution among others.
Lamenting the poor state of the road linking the Eastern by pass to the project, Kalonzo assured farmers and residents that in a years time,the state of Kathimoni stretch will be improved to ease transportation of farm products.
“I have called upon the roads ministry to repair the road by the end of next year. We’ve already put a contractor to start the construction, I will also do a follow up to hasten the process,” said Kalonzo.
Kabaa irrigation scheme is among the nine in seven Arid and Semi arid Lands (ASAL) in the Eastern and Rifvalley regions of the country. The small scale Horticulture Development Project (SHDP) has been funded by African Development Bank (AfDB), the Government and beneficiaries to a tune of Sh. 2.07 billion. Launched in 2008, the project is expected to end in December 2014.