• The Kenya Vision 2030 is an overarching roadmap in transforming Kenya into a middle-income nation providing high quality of life to all its citizens by 2030 in a clean and secure environment.
  • One way of ensuring high quality of life is through provision of reliable, affordable, and nutritious food to the people.
Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki at the Galana Kulalu Food Security Project.
Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki at the Galana Kulalu Food Security Project.
Image: Image: ELIAS YAA

Galana Kulalu project is one of the initiatives identified in the Kenya Vision 2030 that has potential to contribute to the achievement of food security under the “Big 4” initiatives.

The Kenya Vision 2030 is an overarching roadmap in transforming Kenya into a middle-income nation providing high quality of life to all its citizens by 2030 in a clean and secure environment.

One way of ensuring high quality of life is through provision of reliable, affordable, and nutritious food to the people.

The Sh7.29 billion project is located in Tana River and Kilifi counties and the area borders Tsavo East National Park to the east.

The Galana Kulalu Food Security Project Model Farm is a pilot research project within the Galana Irrigation Scheme targeting a production of 10,000 acres, started in November 2014 with the aim of testing the performance of modern irrigation system in large-scale.

During the inception and launch of the project, the National Irrigation Board said once completed the project will see 500,000 acres of land put to maize production, 200,000 acres to sugar cane, 150,000 acres to beef and game animals, 50, 000 acres to horticulture, 50,000 acres to dairy animals while a further 50,000 acres will be dedicated to growing fruits such as mangoes and guavas.

During the launch, President Uhuru Kenyatta said more than 70 per cent of Kenya is arid and semi-arid, and that the country can longer continue to depend on rain-fed farming.

“We must move to irrigation-fed agriculture. This is the only way we will be able to sustain our food security needs,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said.

The model farm comprises two irrigation systems: centre pivot irrigation system and drip. Each centre pivot irrigates 165 acres. Currently, 20 centre pivots with a capacity to irrigate 3,300 acres have been installed and continue being used to produce food in the model farm.

The second irrigation system is the drip system, which was initially set aside for the irrigation of 5,265 acres. Upon review of the sustainability of the drip kits, the authority decided to change the system from the proposed drip to centre pivots. The new area has been fitted with larger centre pivots each commanding 200 acres.

According to NIA, phase one of production started between July and December 2019 and 2,500 acres was under maize crop. The average yield per acre was 28 bags of 90kg and the overall yield was 70,000 (90kg) bags. The average cost of production per acre at the time was Sh45,000.

Phase two of production was carried out between February and June 2020 with 2,650 acres cropped. The average cost of production was Sh48, 000 per acre and the authority harvested yields of up to 28,000 (90kg) bags with an average yield of 28 bags per acre. 

A total of 1,620 acres was put under maize in phase three, which was carried out between November 2020 and March 2021. Yields realised were 45,360 (90kg) bags and the average cost of production was slightly lower than phase two at Sh47,500 per acre.

Phase four (April-September 2021) saw 2,000 acres under maize production with a yield of 54,000 (90kg) bags, while in phase five (October 2021 and February 2022), 1,000 acres of maize was planted with a total yield of 28,000 (90kg) bags.

The last season crop yielded about 103,000 bags with 49,199 bags already delivered for relief by State Department for Special Programmes.

The model farm has seen maize yields increase from 18 to 39 bags per acre. The lessons from this model farm will be replicated across all irrigation projects in Kenya.

With Kenya’s population projected to increase by 30 per cent (roughly 15 million by 2030), the gap between food consumption and production will widen further, rendering more people food insecure.

This, therefore, necessitates the need to improve food security to ensure 100 per cent food and nutrition security as envisioned in the Kenya Vision 2030, Medium Term Plan III and the Big Four Agenda, through enhanced large scale food production, improved smallholder productivity, and reduced cost of food to improve accessibility to all.

The 10,000-acre model farm was started in November 2014 with an initial loan from Bank Leumi of Israel with Green Arava as the contractor. But in May 2018, the contract was terminated following disagreement between Green Arava and the irrigation authority.

After termination, the authority re-tendered the project to a local contractor for completion of the remaining components.

The project components included construction of two intake works and installation of 13 pumps, installation of irrigation systems (drip and centre pivots), construction of logistics centre, supply of assorted machinery and operation and maintenance.

The ongoing works are under a new contractor — Irrico International Limited — at a cost of Sh796.9 million, out which Sh131.2 million will go towards electromechanical and mechanical works and Sh665.7 million for civil works. The starting date for phase two was February 2021 with the expected completion date set to be August 2022.

The Government of Kenya continues to support Kenya’s small scale farmers who have continued to access fertilizer at government subsidized prices to lower their cost of production and improve their earnings.

In further support to the realization of food security, the government since 2013, has brought in an additional 515,200 MT of subsidised fertiliser has been procured and distributed to an additional 1.07 million small scale farmers. This has seen the number of small scale farmers covered increase from 430,000 in 2013 to 1.5 million in 2017.

To facilitate this, the Government operationalised 2 additional fertilizer blending facilities in Eldoret & Nakuru to increase production capacity to 300,000 MT per year up from 50,000 MT in 2013.

This represents a 500% increase in blending capacity leading to a 120 per cent improvement in maize yield per acre, reduced cost of production, enhanced earnings and improved food security.

Through the ministry of agriculture, the CS recently ordered that fertilizer prices be halved so as to be able to mitigate high fertilizer prices for the 2022 long and short rains as key drivers to achieving 100% food and nutrition security as enshrined in the Big Four Agenda which is high agricultural productivity.

“Agricultural inputs including fertilizers are major requirements to boost crop productivity.

It is estimated that if used well, fertilizers increase food and cash crop yields by 30 per cent thus enhancing food and income security for the country.

Fertilizers replace the nutrients that crops remove from the soil and therefore without the addition of fertilizers, crop yields and agricultural productivity would be significantly reduced,” CS Peter Munya said.