Kisumu — In a major development for Kisumu County’s agriculture sector, the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) has received a Sh.3 billion investment from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to rejuvenate the Ahero Irrigation Scheme, a significant move expected to upscale rice production through modernized infrastructure.
According to Kenya News Agency, the NIA Western Schemes Manager, a JICA team is currently performing a feasibility study and technical survey in anticipation of the comprehensive rehabilitation project. Scheduled for completion in 2025, the overhaul represents the first significant update to the scheme since its inception in 1969. Ouma disclosed these developments while appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Blue Economy, Irrigation, Water, and Sanitation.
The infrastructure of the Ahero Irrigation Scheme, which has suffered damage from recurrent flooding over the years, is set for replacement, with NIA expressing confidence in the collaboration with JICA to remedy operational inefficiencies. Ouma highlighted the potential for increased rice production in Ahero and West Kano irrigation schemes, which has been restricted by limited resources.
With new facilities, NIA aims to extend the land under irrigation, reinforcing the area’s capacity for rice cultivation. The planned completion of the Koru-Soin dam, at a cost of Sh.19.8 billion, is poised to provide an additional 10,900 hectares for irrigation. This expansion is expected to enhance food security and increase annual rice revenue to an estimated Sh.6 billion.
The existing Ahero scheme, encompassing 10,810 acres with over 30,000 farmers, yields 22,000 metric tonnes of rice each year. The scheme currently relies on a pump-fed irrigation system drawing water from the River Nyando, distributed via canals.
The introduction of the Koru-Soin Multi-Purpose Dam is anticipated to not only assist in flood control by regulating the River Nyando but also to transition the scheme from a pump-fed to a gravity-fed system, thus ensuring its sustainability.
Ouma highlighted the scheme’s high electricity costs as a significant challenge, with the current pricing inadequate to cover both the electricity bills and other operational costs. To counter this, NIA has sought partnership with the Hungarian government to construct a solar power station at the scheme, aiming to establish a hybrid system that could significantly reduce electricity expenses.
In line with these enhancements, NIA plans to initiate a comprehensive crop intensification program, considering the cultivation of soybeans, watermelons, maize, tomatoes, sorghum, and cowpeas to strengthen food security and bolster farmers’ incomes.