KENYA – In a fresh attempt to revive Galana-Kulalu and spur growth in local food production, the government of Kenya has opened up the multi-billion dollar irrigation scheme to private investors.
Agri-tech firm Twiga Foods is among the first beneficiaries of the new scheme having secures some 20,000 acres in the one-million-acre scheme.
Twiga will be given 10,000 acres that have so far been developed with ready irrigation infrastructure while the firm will have to develop another 10,000 acres on its own, according to Principal Secretary for Irrigation Gitonga Mugambi.
This is the first time that the irrigation scheme is being opened to private investors after many years of false starts since its initiation in 2013.
Acknowledging this reality, Mr. Mugambi noted that NIA could not continue with the project as they lacked the financial ability to move it to the next phase.
“NIA will now play a supervisory role by ensuring that everything is moving on as planned. The development of the scheme, which they have been doing before, will now be left to private investors,” he said.
Twiga’s extensive experience in Agricultural production, particularly at the Coast region where the project is located, gives government confidence that it’s the right company for the job at hand.
Principal Secretary for Irrigation Gitonga Mugambi said the choice of Twiga was based on the work that they had done locally.
“We have visited the farms where Twiga is doing production and we were convinced that they are the best. They will not only help us in achieving food security but also create employment,” said Mr Mugambi.
The firm prepares to roll out on large scale in the next couple of months with priority being given to maize in the first season in line with contract terms.
According to the PS, all firms that have applied for leasing at Galana will have to grow maize as a mandatory crop for one season, then they would be allowed to plant other crops in subsequent seasons for the remainder of the year.