Why Kenya is Handing Over Galana-Kulalu Project to Private Firm
NIA harvested 103,000 bags of maize from the first phase of the model farm, where 5,000 acres were put under the crop, raising questions about the project's viability.
The Kenyan government is set to hand over 10,000 acres of the Galana-Kulalu food security project to private firms and the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) making ADC in full charge of the commercial operations of the project.
The farm will be used to plan maize and other cash crops to help curb food shortages across the country, starting with the coastal region.
The National Irrigation Authority (NIA), the implementer of the project, will hand over the 1.7 million-acre irrigation project to ADC just days after Coast governors said they wanted the national government to allow six counties in the region to manage it.
According to the county governors under their Jumuiya ya Kauti za Pwani (JKP) economic bloc, ADC and NIA had run down the project meant to serve the people in the coastal region from the ravaging pangs of hunger.
Irrigation Act 2019 notes that country governments might be barred from running the farm as the law only allows them to run irrigation farms of less than 100,000 acres. For a county to be allowed to run an irrigation project, it must form an irrigation development board and at the time when the governors were submitting their agreements, none of them has any.
However, NIA harvested 103,000 bags of maize from the first phase of the model farm, where 5,000 acres were put under the crop, raising questions about the project's viability.
Daniel Nzonzo, the NIA spokesperson noted that the authority will hand over the project after concluding to install irrigation infrastructure.
Nzonzo stated: “After an Israeli company abandoned the project due to a misunderstanding with the previous administration over contractual disagreements, a Kenyan firm took over the project as other research institutes continued finding suitable crops and varieties to be planted in the area.
“We are happy to say the contractor is about to conclude and less than two percent is remaining, which can be completed in a few days.”
He added: “As it stands, we are ready to hand over the project even tomorrow to a private firm once they meet the requirements. We are expecting the current government and ministry concerned to issue the communication soon.”
Mr. Nzonzo further noted that the new investor will receive a report on the best crop varieties to be planted after research institutes complete the tests.
The first contractor, Israel's Green Araya set up infrastructure for 5,100 acres before the NIA took over the project and began implementing it jointly with Kenyan contractor Irrico International.
Irrico International is putting up the infrastructure for Sh800 million, which is lower than the Sh5 billion spent by the Israeli company.
The Galana-Kulalu project was a key feature of the Jubilee government’s plans for food security, one of four pillars of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s agenda.
Its key mandate was to move Kenya from rain-fed agriculture amid unreliable weather patterns caused by climate change.
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