Farmers at the Bura Irrigation Scheme in Tana River County are now calling on the government to expedite the completion of water canals to facilitate flow of water by gravity arguing that the pump at the Nanigi intake was inadequate.
Speaking to the press at their farms, the farmers expressed their frustrations over lack of enough water to grow their crops, especially rice which requires a lot of water.
They want the government through the National Irrigation Board to complete the construction of the gravity water canals which was meant to reduce the cost of production by eliminating the use of diesel pumping machines.
“We don’t know if the fuel for the pumping machine at Nanigi is being utilized in the right way, because if so, we wouldn’t lack water,” said Lucy Wangari, a farmer at the scheme.
“We want the government to intervene in the construction of these canals because they have taken quite a long time and every time a contractor comes in, they leave the project unfinished,” she added.
Wangari noted that although they had been given a loan by the government to help them, they are not able to repay back the money because of losses incurred in the process.
“We have in the past been financed to farm in these areas but because of lack of water, we have not been able to see the benefits. The government gave us some money but we now don’t know how to repay because the wild animals are also eating from these farms,” she said.
She called on the Kenya Wildlife Service to intervene and help especially with the elephants which have been grazing on their crops at night.
Jacinta Wanjiku, also a farmer, said that the farmers who depend fully on their farms have been facing challenges including not being able to pay school fees for their children at school due to losses.
“We have water shortage in our farms and yet the tariffs have been increased from a monthly rate of Sh5,000 to about Sh 7500. We want the government to increase the water flow so that we can yield good produce,” Wanjiku said.
She said that due to the rising cost of fuel, the cost of pumping water has risen which has in turn increased the tariffs and the cost of production.
James Gichira, a worker at a farm in Village 7 said that it has become difficult for farmers to pay their workers because of low yields which lead to losses.
“I haven’t been paid for several months and I understand because like now, there is not enough water for the farms, high cost of fertilizers and the infiltration by wild animals leave our farmers with nothing,” Gichira said.
“Fertilizers are now costing between Kshs 5,000 and 7,500. With low produce here, some buyers even buy a kilogram of rice from as low as Sh 50. What will the farmer be left with?” he posed.