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Kenya, Israeli governments to revive mega-irrigation project

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Kenya, Israeli governments to revive mega-irrigation project by Saocv(1): Thu 16, April, 2020 11:22pm
The Sh7 billion Galana/Kulalu project is key to food security pillar of Big Four agenda

By Wangari Ndirangu

Discussions between the Kenya and Israeli governments on the modalities of reviving the 10,000-acre Galana/Kulalu irrigation project in Tana River and Kilifi counties are at an advanced stage.

Israeli Deputy Ambassador to Kenya, Eyal David, said his government is holding talks with various agencies and ministries, as well as governors of both Kilifi and Tana River counties on how to get the mega-project back on track.

The Galana Model Farm contract was awarded to Green Arava of Israel in 2014 and was expected to be completed by January20, 2018 but the works have since stalled.

“I do hope we will succeed in the near future since the Galana/Kulalu Project I is important to both Kenya and Israel and enjoys a lot of goodwill from both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Uhuru Kenyatta,” he said.

Ambassador Eyal, who was speaking during a breakfast meeting organised by the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya at a Nairobi hotel said Israel is determined to help Kenya boost her food security through irrigation.

"We want to move from the model farm phase to national level and create more model farms in several areas in the country," he said.

The project stalled in early 2019 when Green Arava, the Israeli company contracted by the government to construct the Sh7.2 billion model, abandoned work following alleged disagreements with the National Irrigation Board.

“The company is still there, only that there was some bad blood between it and some Kenya government agencies. But the two governments have resolved to revive the project. We believe in capacity of the company and currently are at discussions with the stakeholders on how to move it forward,” the envoy said.

Besides reviving the Galana/Kulalu project, the diplomat said Israel is also working to bring back into the country graduates from an agricultural training in Israel to work at the project.

“We send 100 students of Agriculture every year from Kenya for an 11-month training on how our country transformed a desert bloom into an agricultural country,” he said.

The ambassador said Israel will be holding an agri-preneural event in May to link the more than 400 alumni of the training project with financial institutions, companies and other stakeholders that can make use of their skills.

The students were to be drafted by government into the stalled project. “We do hope that the project will be back on track soon to take up the trainees,” Eyal said.

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