President Ruto to Commission release of water from Thiba Dam to rice farms
President William Ruto is expected to officially commission release of water from the newly constructed Thiba Dam to rice farms in Kirinyaga county. Ruto will be accompanied Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, governor Anne Waiguru and a host of other leaders.
The release of the water from the reservoir to Thiba river is meant to ensure a continuous flow of the commodity to the Mwea rice irrigation scheme in all seasons. Since early September, the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) has been undertaking test run on the release of the water from the dam which after it got filled up. The impounding exercise of the dam began late in May until late August this year when the dam got filled with the targeted capacity of 15.6 million cubic meters. The reservoir which was built at a cost of about Sh 7.8 billion is 40-meter-high and 1.1 km in length. The project it expected to give the 30,060-acre Mwea irrigation scheme a lifeline and an additional 10,000 acres being flooded for rice farming.
NIA Mwea Irrigation Scheme Manager Innocent Ariemba says increased supply of water will also enable farmers to adopt double cropping practice which means with the 40,060 acres under irrigation per season. This will translate to a total of 80,120 acres under rice annually. He said the current annual rice production at the Mwea irrigation scheme stands at 114,000 metric tonnes per year. “The current production will rise to about 180,000 metric tonnes of rice annually,” Ariemba said. Governor Waiguru says completion and consequent release of water will more than double the current rice production capacity.
“The increased supply of water is the news that every rice farmer in Mwea has been waiting, we want to expressed our gratitude to the President for the effort to ensure water from the dam is finally flowing to the farms,” she said. She said the current Sh 9 billion annual earning from rice economy is expected to rise to between Ksh.14 billion to Ksh16 billion annually. “Our farmers will now have adequate supply of water to their farms and this will result to increased production and employment,” the governor added. The governor who is also the Council of Governors Chairperson said the dam will not only benefit rice farmers as some 900 locals neighboring the reservoir. The water is supporting the Rukenya and Kibithe irrigation schemes to undertake horticulture irrigation.
During her re-election campaigns, the governor urged the government to control importation of cheap rice to shield local growers from unfair competition. She said despite the region producing most of the rice in the country, rice farmers have remained impoverished due to lack of market. Waiguru said cheap imported rice has flooded the market, forcing farmers to dispose theirs at a loss.