Dashed hope as Lower Kuja scheme stalls, millers facing rice shortage

By MN Reporter

Rice milling factories in Migori county have run out of stock as differences between farmers and management the Kuja irrigation scheme widen.

The two parties have been embroiled in legal battles for years since the implementation of the first phase of the multi billon Irrigation project in Nyatike thus scuttling efforts to expand the project as was planned by the National Irrigation Authority ( NIA).

The rice farms which were once a bevy of activity has been turned into grazing fields with little or no signs of farmers resuming anytime soon.

Mr. Joel Tanui, regional coordinator of the NIA during a recent crisis meeting with the farmers said the farmers and land owners unwillingness to corporate have negatively impacted on the scheme’s improvement.

Tanui explained that as experts, their roles is to provide infrastructural framework as part of production , leaving farmers to take care of the remaining expenses.
He added that farmers and locals are at liberty to choose between development and legal wrangles .

Millers who had invested in the region as rice production In Nyatike boomed, are now at the center of the war, with some fearing they might be forced to shut down their operations if the crisis is not solved any time soon.

Tom Omondi, a manager at Nykweri Rice mill said they have enough stock to last them two weeks , after which they’ll fold up.

The investor noted that the local farmers who used to supply him with paddy rice have since gone down since operations at the rice farms were scaled down by the Irrigation authorities citing high operation costs.

The miller added that at times he’s forced to source for paddy rice from as far as Ahero in Kisumu county since the diminishing supplies cannot meet their milling demands of 5 tons per day.

He pointed out that the challenges facing rice production in the region is occasioned by little know how on the side of the farmers regarding their role on the production process.

Farmers here are optimistic that once the critical issues are addressed amicably, they will resume their activities.

The entire irrigation project was to cover 19 hectares of land and not even a quarter of the project has been implemented.