MPs want S4bn food scheme shelved

By: JOHN NJAGI

MPs want the S4 billion Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme in Tana River suspended terming it a failure.

The National Assembly’s agriculture committee said officials involved in procuring feasibility studies of the project should be investigated.

The plan was to improve food production by switching from rain-fed agriculture to irrigation.

Agriculture ministry officials have said the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission should investigate the loss of more than S00 million, after the cost of a feasibility study awarded to an Israeli firm, Agri-green, was reportedly inflated from Sh793 million to Sh923 million.

The project has been a waste of taxpayers’ funds. It should be suspended and the officials investigated for the loss of public funds, said the committee’s chairman, Mr Mohammed Nooru.

The government was to irrigate one million acres of arid land.

This would help take care of shrinking agricultural land amid a rising demand for food due to a growing population.

Mr Nooru, who is also the Mandera East MP, criticised the government for proceeding with the project against the committee’s advice.

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The team had recommended that the project be put on hold since it had been poorly executed.

The government was criticised for single-sourcing a company to put in place a demonstration farm on 10,000 acres out of the 800,000 acres under the scheme.

After a feasibility study, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute had declared the 800,000 acres in the area viable for agriculture.

Committee Vice-Chairman Kareke Mbiuki said the contract for the model farm was awarded in a record one week.

He said the rush was due to an agreement between the Kenyan and Israeli governments.

The lawmakers said despite the National Treasury having so far pumped Sh7 billion, half of the entire budget, into the project, only 20 per cent of the projected results had been realised, three months before the deadline for the completion of the work.

The whole project has been bungled, said Mr Mbiuki, who is also the Maara MP.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION