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Wikithuki Irrigation Scheme regains life following aborted Presidential tour

 At this time when drought has been declared a national disaster with hunger and famine striking most parts of the country especially arid counties of North Eastern region and Kitui County, nobody would expect that there would be any place in Kitui where agriculture is thriving despite the harsh climatic conditions.

Kitui senator Enock Kiio Wambua tours Wikithuki irrigation scheme accompanied by the scheme's stakeholders. Photo/BONIFACE MWANIKI

However, you just need to visit Wikithuki Irrigation Scheme, once a white elephant project which was launched more than five years ago by the national government but collapsed. The National Irrigation Authority was sent to the area about two months ago to revive the scheme which was part of the projects which President Uhuru Kenyatta had planned to visit during his extensive tour of Ukambani region.

With more than 500 acres of land now under irrigation, the once bare and dry land is now very green and full of activities as farmers nurture their maize and other crop plantations which are now spread across the Wikithuki irrigation scheme’s vast land.

According to Mr Chris Opondo, the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) engineer who is currently managing the operations of the scheme, the authority is planning to put about 1,000 acres of land under irrigation by end of this year, with about 500 acres currently under irrigation.

“We are planning to put another 500 acres of land under irrigation by end of this year on top of the current 500 which are under irrigation,” said the NIA engineer. 


Maize plantation inside Wikithuki Irrigation Scheme which has 500 acres under irrigation. Photo/BONIFACE MWANIKI

Food basket

Mr. Opondo said that the scheme was very viable in agriculture and it was possible to turn it into the main food basket of the arid Ukambani region.

William Nzomo who is the chairperson of the farmers currently operating in the scheme said that it was possible to put all the 10,000 acres of land which was allocated for the scheme, if the ongoing activities in the scheme are anything to go by.

“Farmers here are very determined to bring the best out of the scheme and currently we have various crops in various stages under irrigation. It’s our dream to put the over 7000 hectares which had been set aside for the scheme under maximum use,” said the farmer.

Kitui senator Enoch Kiio Wambua who toured the scheme Monday lauded President Uhuru Kenyatta for breathing life back to the once collapsed regime through the National Irrigation Authority.

“I want to take this opportunity to laud the pioneer of this scheme and our party leader Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka. I also want to thank the president Uhuru Kenyatta for reviving the scheme through the National Irrigation Authority (NIA),” said the first-term senator.

Senator Wambua said that time was ripe for the president to visit the scheme and see the steps being made which would make him believe that Wikithuki can become the food basket of this nation if well supported.

“The ongoing activities at the scheme are a clear indication that this scheme can become the food basket of this nation and ought to be supported by all means possible as a way of mitigating against hunger in the country,” added Mr. Wambua.

He urged president Uhuru Kenyatta to consider committing some of the funds meant for drought mitigation in the scheme in order to improve the crop yield and piece of land under irrigation.


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