Kilifi leaders oppose privatization of Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme

A man working at the Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme in Kilifi and Tana river counties./FILE

Kilifi, KENYA: Leaders in Kilifi County have vowed to ensure Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme is not handed over to a private developer as proposed by the national Government.

They say the proposal of privatization of the mega Food Security Project is a plot by the government to grab the land.

Speaking in Matsangoni, Kilifi North on Wednesday, area Member of Parliament Owen Baya said the national Government seems to have failed to develop the project and now wants to get rid of it technically with a motive of taking away the people’s land.

This comes after the government on Wednesday last week announced its plan to give 20,000 acres of the Galana-Kulalu project to private firms to increase the acreage under maize.

“Last week Water and irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa announced that the national government has a plan to give the project to a private developer,” Baya said.

“We want to tell him that as leaders from this county we will not even at once allow that to happen. Maybe they can do that on the part of the project that is in Tanariver County but in Kilifi County Galana-Kulalu will never be privatized,” he added.

Water CS Eugene Wamalwa also said the private firms and the Agricultural Development Corporation would plant the maize in March, this year.

But instead, Baya wants the land given to the communities in Tana River and Kilifi counties.

“As MPs from this region, we will pick up this matter with the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture,” Baya said.

“If this fails to materialize, we will move to court and if the court fails to stop the proposed privatization plan, then we will come to the people’s court. We will mobilize our people to defend that land from grabbers,” he added.

The legislature expressed concerns over ADC saying it was once subdivided and allocated the 5,000 acres at the Malindi ADC Kisiwani Farm.

He said the initial plan was to raise cattle at the farm but the plan changed.

“The ADC gave the land to private developers and ended up being built on high-end buildings,” Baya said.

During the weekend, 10 MPs from the Coast said they will block any plans to privatize the 1.7 million acres project.

Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi earlier on wanted the project handed over to the relevant county government since agriculture is a devolved function.

“We have the capacity to produce maize in that project if the national government gives us the chance. The money pumped there does not translate to the maize produced there. More than Sh40 billion has been sunk there but Kenya is still food insecure,” he said.

According to the government’s plan 500,000 acres is to be put under maize production, 150,000 acres on beef and game animals, 50,000 acres for dairy farming, 200,000 acres under sugarcane farming, 50,000 acres under horticulture and the remaining 50,000 acres will be used for growing fruits.