State sets stage for phase two of Galana irrigation project

The National Irrigation Board (NIB) is seeking to contract a firm for the construction of dams, staff houses and an electric fence for phase two of the Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme.

The eligible firm should have a financial muscle of Sh10 billion and show ability to raise Sh122 billion to undertake the project at the remaining 400,000 acres of land.

“This project aims at implementing phase two of the project on a design-build basis whose components comprises development of a mega dam with the capacity of two billion cubic metres, a water distribution system as well as staff houses,” said the NIB on a public notice.

Water from Galana River is not enough to irrigate the 400,000 acres of land, prompting plan to build three dams for storage.

Of the total acreage, 250,000 acres will be put under maize cultivation with beans and horticulture crops planted in the remaining portion.

Under the project, investors will be offered land for crop production and value addition, meaning those dealing in maize will be expected to produce floor and other products on the farm.

They will pay a fee to the NIB which is expected to share the revenues generated with the contractor laying the infrastructure over a per-determined period.

The contractor will operate under the build, own, operate, transfer (Boot) model. This model involves contractors building an infrastructure using their own resources and charge a fee to users over a period of time before transferring it to the government.

NIB chief engineer in charge of planning and design Mwangi Thuita said a memorandum of understanding will be signed between the board and the contractor after completion of the project to stipulate the mode and duration of payment.

READ: NCPB to buy Galana maize at Sh2,300 a bag

Kenya has an annual deficit of 20 million bags of maize annually and NIB believes that 250,000 acres of land under the crop would be enough to bridge the deficit and slash imports from Uganda and Tanzania.

The Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme is a public-private partnership programme where the State provides irrigation infrastructure while private investors plant crops on tracts of land they have selected.

Kenya has contracted an Israeli firm, Green Arava that is currently developing a 10,000 acres model farm which will inform the rest of one million acres land.

The Israeli firm has planted maize and harvested from 500 acres and has put an additional 500 acres under the crop. The model farm is expected to be completed in March.

The project was supposed to cover one million acres but feasibility studies have indicated that the available water from the river has a capacity to irrigate 500,000 acres when it is dammed.