Dry counties get Sh6bn for irrigation, value addition

About 104,000 farmers in 11 arid and semi-arid counties will benefit from Sh6.3 billion aanced to Kenya to improve small scale agricultural production.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a $39.5 million loan for the project while a further $24 million will be issued as a grant from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme.

The programme dubbed Small Scale Irrigation and Value Addition Project is a follow-up on a similar project — Small Scale Horticulture Development Project — that was also funded by the AfDB.

“The principal objective of this project is to contribute to poverty reduction by enhancing agricultural productivity and income, and food security among beneficiaries in 11 arid and semi-arid counties of Kenya,” the AfDB said in a statement.

“The project will focus on improving high value crop production, improved access to market, enhance processing, storage, production and post-harvest handling technologies, market accessibility, nutrition and capacity building.”

The 11 counties are Machakos, Kitui, Makueni, Tana River, Bomet, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Nyandarua, Murang’a, Kajiado and Nyeri. Farmers in the programme will be under 12 irrigation schemes covering a total of 9,300 acres.

The programme is also targeting the setting up of 3,700 acres of pasture land and funding 120 groups in bee-keeping or poultry. Eleven agricultural produce markets will also be built.

Among the crops targeted are green maize, French beans, onions, tomatoes and water melons, and livestock products from poultry, sheep, goats and cattle.

“Post-harvest losses are expected to be halved from 40 per cent to 20 per cent, thereby increasing agricultural output available for consumption and market,” AfDB’s Agriculture and Agro-Industry Director Chiji Ojukwu said.