By The COAST Reporter
Farmers of Hola Irrigation Scheme in Tana River have protested of being discriminated on water distribution on their farms.
They have accused the National Irrigation Authority’s (NIA) personnel of diverting the water to commercial farms owned by outsiders while those of locals run dry.
The aggrieved farmers marched to County’s headquarters to present their petition to the deputy county commissioner Enkaria Joseph before visiting the offices of the County government.
In their petition, the farmers demanded for the immediate closure of commercial farms growing rice claiming the scheme was meant for growing maize and green peas.
They called for the removal of the scheme’s manager James Kirimi and the dissolution of the Scheme Advisory Committee for favouring farmers from Mount Kenya residing there.
Mr Adnan Umur Salim, the Hola Irrigation Scheme Farmers’ Cooperative Society chair, noted that although the government supplied pump fuel from River Tana, crops were drying up due to lack of water distribution.
“What’s the problem when the pumps and fuel is okay?” he posed saying the NIA officials and advisory committee were doing business with the farms.
According to him the committee was frustrating local farmers so as to reallocate their farms to outsiders for unexplained reasons.
The society’s treasurer, Salim Dhadho, alleged there was also discrimination in the distribution of 16,000 bags of Yara Fertilizer worth Sh32 million granted to the farmers.
Its secretary Ade Hussein Hero accused the NIA officials of hiring out farms belonging to the locals after frustrating them through denial of irrigation waters.
The water canals leading to the commercial farms, he said, were well maintained with regular water supplies contrary to what happened at the locals’ farms.
Mr Enkaria told the farmers they had experience fuel delays to run the pumps at the main intake but promised water would start flowing onto their farms.
Also the advisory committee chair, the DCC denied claims of discrimination saying even the rice farmers in the commercial farms had similar concerns due to lack of water supplies.
On the accusations levelled against Mr Kirimi, the administrator said he had managed to increase acreage from 600 to more than 6000 acres in the scheme.