For long, Kenyan farmers have yearned to grow their crops without the fear of poor yields or total crop failure caused by inadequate rainfall. We are aware that irrigation is the solution.
However, despite the fact that irrigation is as old as civilization, yet this intervention has not reached many farmers, even where its adoption would be easy and affordable.
There are a number of reasons for this disconnect, including but not limited to: topographic/ hydrological conditions, lack of awareness, high investment costs, adaptable technologies, political, socio-economic, markets and infrastructure issues.
Meanwhile, another missing piece to the equation has been lack of a united voice for upscaling and out-scaling smallholder irrigation, nowadays referred to as “Farmer-Led Irrigation (FLI)”.
Granted that there are numerous water resources users associations (WRUAs), irrigation water users associations (IWRUA), farmer groups, forest action groups, environmental networks, Water and sanitation networks etc. a majority of which operate at the grassroots, conversely at the policy level, there has been no real group of committed experts to push and advocate for smallholder irrigation.
But that handle is now passed, as on 12th April 2018, the National Irrigation Acceleration Platform (NIAP) was formed. NIAP brings together a convening of stakeholders who include a wide range of irrigated agriculture value chain actors. These include but are not limited to: policy makers, financial institutions, technology and service providers, private sector, NGOs, CBOs, researchers, development partners and all who uphold FLI in Kenya.
The aim of NIAP is to provide a “Platform” for knowledge sharing, learning, interaction and building of synergies to advance actions that promote and upscale irrigation best practices in Kenya.
If you value the opportunities that irrigation opens up; for the farmer, for markets and infrastructure, for the trader, the innovator, the consumer, the country and for yourself, then you are like many of us in NIAP. Welcome to the Platform!
Prof. Bancy Mati
National Coordinator, NIAP