The recently completed Muringa Banana Irrigation project in Maara region in Tharaka Nithi is projected to benefit over 7, 000 farmers.
The Sh1.2 billion project which was launched by Water Cabinet Sicily Kariuki earlier this year has come as a relief for residents of the water-deficient region who could not practice meaningful agricultural activities.
President Uhuru Kenyatta allocated the initial funding for the banana irrigation scheme when he served as Finance Minister, and Kariuki said he had a close interest to see it up and running.
“The president wants to see projects budgeted for are implemented fully. He wanted the banana irrigation project which started when he was Finance minister done. He has a very personal interest in the project because it plays a role in food security,” she said in the company of national government and county officials.
Speaking in the company of Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki, the CS said the project was one of President Kenyatta’s important ones in the county.
Kariuki said the project will not only boost the production of food for subsistence but also commercial farming
In addition to bananas, farmers also grow tomatoes, pawpaw, French beans, green grams, and other crops.
The irrigation project is estimated to bring farmers about Sh1.75b per year.
“We strongly believe it will be a game-changer,” said Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki, who is also the National Assembly Water and Environment Committee chairman.
Kariuki also inspected the Sh220m Tunyai-Gakurungu irrigation project in the arid Tharaka region which is expected to be complete next month.
It is meant to support the production of horticultural crops such as tomatoes, bananas, pawpaw, French beans, vegetables, and green grams.
It is intended to benefit 1, 420 farmers with an annual income estimated at Sh200m.
Governor Njuki while thanking President Kenyatta for the mega irrigation, water, and sewerage project his administration allocated to the region, said the county government will partner with the central government to realize development.
Farmers like Aphaxard Mbaabu are now saturating the market with the bananas season in season out and said they are grateful for the project.
Mbaabu from Maara has over 1, 200 banana trees and has been selling his harvests to Twiga Foods at an average of Sh14.50 per kilo.
With a stalk fetching him Sh500, he says he is able to make a tidy profit.
“I earned Sh207, 000 last season but I am sure I will do better the coming season, where I hope to get up to Sh500, 000,” said Mbaabu.