Counties

Vihiga pilots Sh48 million African vegetable irrigation

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Vihiga Governor Wilber Ottichilo. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Vihiga County is piloting a Sh48 million irrigation scheme for production of African leafy vegetables.
  • The scheme on the Emabungo-Wemilabi farm in Central Bunyore has kicked off after an environmental impact assessment cleared the venture.
  • Governor Wilber Ottichilo expressed optimism that the project would eradicate poverty by entrenching agribusiness in the region.

Vihiga County is piloting a Sh48 million irrigation scheme for production of African leafy vegetables.

The scheme on the Emabungo-Wemilabi farm in Central Bunyore has kicked off after an environmental impact assessment cleared the venture.

Governor Wilber Ottichilo expressed optimism that the project would eradicate poverty by entrenching agribusiness in the region.

“The pilot programme is going on at Emabungo-Wemilabi in Luanda. The environment impact assessment was done. We expect farmers to plant around the year,” he said.

County Agriculture Department estimates that the devolved unit intends to grow the African leafy vegetables on 1,493 acres of land.

Already, 2.9 metric tonnes cowpeas seeds — locally known as likuvi, 89.1kg black nightshade seeds (lisutsa), 102.5kg slender leaf seeds (mito), 52.5kg spider plant seeds (tsisaga), 102.5kg jute mallow seeds (mutere) and 52.5kg amaranth seeds (tsimboga) have been procured.

Dr Ottichilo said in Mbale on Wednesday the irrigation project would make the region food secure and supply its surplus to the rest of the market.

“We are reading for irrigation farming through this pilot program because we don’t want our farmers to be dependent on rainfall agriculture,” he said.

The county has allocated funds to curb soil erosion and landslides in selected areas ahead of the roll out the irrigation farming.

Dr Ottichilo said this is a measure that is intended to ensure soil is conserved and avoid losing the nutritious top layer to the rivers whenever erosion and landslides occur.

“Our focus is on the areas where landslides have been reported. This is geared at turning around our agricultural practices,” he said.

In the plan, Sh11.7 million is being used to undertake soil conservation in Emabungo where the irrigation scheme is being piloted.

Dr Ottichilo said the area is very hilly and the funds would be used in putting up terraces to slow down soil erosion effects.

Another Sh11.4 million will be spent on conserving soil in Central Maragoli and Wamuluma/Lugaga with Sh10 million being channelled to North Maragoli and Izava/Lyaduywa once approvals are completed.

Emaloba-Ebwiranyi and Tiriki West have also been earmarked for soil conservation and are awaiting approval for funding with each being allocated Sh9 million and Sh8.2 million respectively.

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