Sh400bn Galana irrigation scheme ‘back on course’

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The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta operating a tractor during the launch the Galana Irrigation project in Tana River County, where, private investors are expected to acquire one million acres under irrigation. (Photo: Construction Review)
Daily Nation | 17 August 2014

Sh400bn Galana irrigation scheme ‘back on course’

by Zeddy Sambu

The Sh400 billion Galana Kulalu irrigation scheme which had seemingly steered off  course, is back on track, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei has said.

Away from funding hitches that the one-million acre project had faced recently, a contract signing ceremony with Israeli firm Agri Green to build the “model farm” will be done on Tuesday.

The first crop could be realised around February next year, said the CS. Galana Kulalu irrigation project seeks to reclaim one million acres to irrigation by 2017.

The project hopes to have 500,000 acres of land under maize production, 200,000 acres under sugarcane farming, 150,000 acres on beef and game animals, 50,000 acres under horticulture, 50,000 acres for dairy farming and the remaining 50,000 acres to grow fruits.

SIGN THE CONTRACT

“We will sign the contract with Agri Green on Tuesday. This will pave the way for us to get 2,000 acres of the project before year end,” the minister in an interview at his offices on Friday. He maintained that the project was back on track after initial delays.

A 10,000-acre State-run pilot farm to be set up would require a dam. The minister said Israel had agreed to finance the model farm on Galana River at a cost of $651 million (Sh55.3 billion).

He said the Agriculture ministry was looking for funds to put up the farm and build the dam.

He attributed a three-month delay to “geotechnological investigation”, a tedious process of mapping the areas that have low water levels near the river.

The minister said designs for the project started last November and lasted four months before the project was significantly expanded in April.

TEST CONCEPTS

The plan was to set up a 10,000-acre model farm to test concepts that the government had in mind. If successfully implemented, the project would boost investor confidence.

Eventually, private investors are expected to acquire the one million acres under irrigation.

“In April, we added a detailed design project component — a model dam and 10,000 acres for Phase 1 of the project”.

The first 10,000 acres of the project will use water from the Galana River. “We will construct a dam to support the entire farm. This will take about 14 months, plus putting up related infrastructure,” he added.

The minister spoke after MPs recently questioned the viability of the project, saying President Kenyatta may have been misled to launch the pilot phase in January.  Not so, the CS said.

“The President launched consultancy services and commencement of the model farm,” said Mr Koskei.

The consultants are Agri-Green of Israel and two local firms, Amiran and Enviro-plan. They gave us their final report on April 30.

In the fiscal year 2014/15, the National Treasury allocated Sh3.5 billion to the irrigation scheme, which was revived in January. The money will be used to put up at least one million more acres under irrigation in Tana River and Kilifi counties.

SUNK IN CONSULTANCY

But MPs took issue with the fact that, of the Sh1.6 billion spent on the project so far, Sh920 million — equivalent to 57.5 per cent — was sunk in consultancy.

Other expenses are Sh110 million for development of a model farm, Sh490 million for rehabilitation of infrastructure, Sh32 million for a study on soil suitability and Sh50 million on facilitation, including transport and vehicles.

“The Galana ranch is expansive and undeveloped. Roads were impassable and planes couldn’t land. It was for that reason that the ministry, through the National Irrigation Board, concentrated on rehabilitating airstrips and roads, said the CS.

Once completed, the project is expected to reduce human-wildlife conflict by forming a buffer zone between Tsavo East National Park and local communities.

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Construction Review | 26 August 2014

Kenya signs US$165m irrigation deal with Green Arava

The President of Kenya, Uhuru KenyattaThe President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta operating a tractor during the launch the Galana Irrigation project in Tana River County

Green Arava, an Israeli firm has signed a US$165m Galana Irrigation project deal with the Kenyan government.

The signed agreement will see the firm rehabilitate the land under the Galana/ Kulalu Green Food Security Project in the Coastal region of Kenya. Galana Ranch is situated in Tana and Kilifi counties with an area of approximately 1.5 million acres.

The Galana Irrigation project will take some portions of the land under sugarcane farming. Maize production, horticulture, cattle rearing, dairy farming and the rest will be used for growing fruits.

The firm will build a 10,000 acre pilot farm which will be state-run to test concepts by the Kenyan government. A dam will also be constructed to provide the water needed for irrigating the project during this first phase. This demo farm is meant to gain the trust of investors so they may be able to come on board once the phase has been successfully implemented.

The successful completion of the Galana Irrigation project will see the region improve their food production and reduce their reliance on rain fed agriculture. The price of food commodity will also be reduced due to increased food productivity and low cost of production.

The firm assured the government of returns once the project is complete. This is because the technology that is going to be used has been tested in other areas such as Europe and Israel, which is one of the countries in the world that has been able to ensure food security in their countries through irrigation despite the low rains experienced there.

The total cost of the Galana Kulalu irrigation scheme is US$4.5bn. The model project, on the other hand, will cost US$165m with the Kenyan government setting aside US$40m while the Israelis will provide the remaining US$125m.
Original source: Daily Nation
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