On Tuesday, January 4, 2023, President William Ruto announced the revocation of the planned subdivision of the Galana Kulalu irrigation project land.
Instead, Ruto said the 10,000 acres will be worked on to start commercial maize production, beginning February 2023.
“After extensive tour, with county/Gok leaders, of Galana/Kulalu national food security project today, I direct as follows: the planned subdivision into settlement parcels is revoked/cancelled: private/Gok (NIA) PPP to work on the ready 10,000 to produce starting with maize in February,” Ruto said in a statement.
After an extensive tour with National and County Government leaders of Galana/Kulalu National Food Security Project today,
— William Samoei Ruto, PhD (@WilliamsRuto) January 3, 2023
According to President Ruto, his government will employ the Public-Private-Partnership model in turning Galana Kulalu into a massive maize producing scheme in the next six months.
“The next 10,000 acres be prepared for production in 6 months under PPP: GoK to construct a dam beginning April to bring another 350,000 acres under production: Gok to work out a model for PPP food production in the 350k acres to be ready in 6 months,” Ruto ordered after touring the expansive project.
Birth of Galana Kulalu
Launched in November 2014, the Galana Kulalu was a project by the government of Kenya in partnership with the private sector aimed at enhancing food security.
The project idea was a brainchild of former Naivasha MP John Mututho who served as the chairman of the parliamentary agriculture committee in the 10th parliament.
The National Irrigation Authority is the implementing agency for the project.
Since its inception, Galana Kulalu has however failed to live up to its expectations of becoming Kenya’s food basket.
President Ruto says his administration is committed to revive the Galana Kulalu Food Security project which will see some 350,000 acres put under food production.
Ruto has accused unnamed individuals at the Ministry of Lands of sabotaging the project by subdividing the land for settlement.
“I have cancelled the parceling of that land, I have stopped it and it will not happen because subdividing Galana is actually going to send people there who are going to require food relief to even live there,” Ruto said during a joint media interview at State House, Nairobi.
Galana Kulalu potential
Ruto says that Galana Kulalu can produce some 10 million bags of maize, enough to seal the gap the country is facing.
“Galana can feed three or four million Kenyans, why do you want to go and settle 10,000 people there? How does that compare? Galana did not fail, it was made to fail.” Ruto said.
Originally, the Galana Kulalu project was to entail the development of physical infrastructure for viable and economic utilization of the natural resources available within or accessible to the area making up the scheme.
The plan was to include water storage, conveyance and distribution, irrigation, livestock production, aquaculture and road network.
On completion, the project was to see the production of maize, sugarcane, horticulture and orchards, dairy and beef ranching.
According to the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (Kippra), the Galana Kulalu project was one of the initiatives identified in the Kenya Vision 2030 that had potential to contribute to the achievement of food security under the “Big 4” initiatives.
Kenya still faces the scourge of food insecurity with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicating that some 14.5 million Kenyans still face food and nutrition insecurity each year, with 2.6 million being severely affected.
Although Kenya boasts of an estimated 1.3 million hectares of irrigation potential land, only 150,600 hectares had been put under irrigation in the country as of 2018.
The government had set aside a total of 1.0 million acres for the Galana Kulalu irrigation project.
500,000 acres were to be put under maize production, 200,000 acres under sugarcane, while rice, beef and game production was to take 150,000 acres.
An additional 50,000 acres were to be utilized for horticulture, orchard, and dairy farming.
Green Arava, an Israel company was contracted to construct and install irrigation infrastructure and test the systems at an initial cost of Ksh14.5 billion.
The initial funding of the project was a Ksh 6.35 billion loan from Bank Leumi of Israel.
Between 2014-2019, the National Treasury had injected a total of Ksh15.3 billion into the project.
By 2019, the irrigation project had been projected to make Ksh 1.2 billion in maize sales per season. However, the project only generated some Ksh 273.7 million from the sale of 119,000 90kg bags of maize.
Green Arava abandoned the project in 2022 after failing to reach an agreement on funding from the National Treasury.
Treasury had failed on its obligation by cutting funding for the project.
The project was then handed over to the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC).
In November,2022, the government decided to hand over the 10,000 acres to ADC and private firms for crop cultivation.
Coast governors have been pushing the government to hand over the running of the project to them.
The county leaders have accused the National Irrigation Board and the ADC of running down the project.
Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung’aro has also accused Ministry of Land officials of orchestrating what he terms as land grabbing by hungry individuals.
Mututho opines that successful implementation of Kulalu project could see Kenya become not only food sufficient but also a net exporter of food produce in Africa.
Last month, Agriculture Cabinet secretary Mithika Linturi said the government will import 10 million bags of maize to enable the country to have adequate stocks to last until the next major harvest of July-August 2023.
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