KENYA – The government of Kenya has devoted KES 1.1 billion US$8M) for the electrification of the Galana-Kulalu Irrigation Scheme as it moves to make the national food security project more attractive to investors.

The grant follows a fresh attempt to revive the multi-billion-dollar irrigation scheme in a bid to achieve national food security.

According to Business Daily, the new administration has allocated Sh244 million in the financial year 2023/24, as President Ruto bets on the project to help increase food production and ease the cost of living in the country.

A report from the Treasury states that all the funds will come from the exchequer as the State puts in place amenities to attract investors in the one-million-acre farm that straddles Kilifi and Tana River counties.

According to Ruto, the move is timely as the country is grappling with a wide array of prolonged periods of drought, rising costs of farm inputs, the trickling effect of the Ukraine -Russia war, as well as soaring food prices.

Earlier, the government had opened the scheme to private investors to grow maize, the country’s staple, with agri-tech firm Twiga Foods securing some 20,000 acres under a private-public partnership (PPP).

The country, therefore, intends to attract more private players by providing basic amenities such as electricity, portable water, and services which have been hindering the adoption according to a feasibility study by the National Irrigation Authority (NIA), the procuring entity.

The government through the NIA was expected to construct a dam starting in April with an additional 350,000 acres being put under food production by giving access to private players.

The deal, under a Public–Private Partnership (PPP) required that 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.

“It will be mandatory for a firm to plant the basic food, which is maize. After that, they can have three seasons to plant whatever they want,” said Irrigation PS Gitonga Mugambi in March.

At the time of its inception, Galana-Kulalu Food Security Project was launched under the “Big 4” agenda, as part of the regime’s drive to attain food security.

The project was contracted to Israel’s Green Arava to construct and install irrigation infrastructure and test the systems at an initial cost of Sh14.5 billion.

However, the pilot project which has been dogged by controversy, is eyed to produce 10 million bags to seal the gap from the duty-free import.

For all the latest grains industry news from Africa, the Middle East and the World, subscribe to our weekly NEWSLETTERS, follow us on LinkedIn and subscribe to our YouTube channel