IRRIGATION WATER IS GOOD LIFE, SAYS TREE TOMATO FARMER WANJIKU
“I’m delighted that the government gave me water when I needed it most,” Mary Wanjiku, a beneficiary of Kamuka Irrigation Project, exclaimed. The National Irrigation Authority (NIA) is implementing this project in Kiambu County’s Gatundu South Constituency.
The Kamuka project, according to Eng. Loise Kahiga, the Authority’s Chief Engineer, Planning and Design, has irrigated 150 acres, benefiting approximately 100 farmers who grow high-value crops. Construction of a water intake along River Komwathai in Kinari Forest, as well as conveyance pipelines to connect water to farmers, is part of the project.
Wanjiku owns 1.5 acres on which she grows crops to feed her family, pay bills, and educate her three children. This was not always the case. Despite having fertile land, she was dependent on rainfall, which was scarce and irregular. “If it hadn’t been for the NIA linking us to water, my family would be looking for relief food now that rain has not fallen in a long time,” Ms Wanjiku cries. “And I wouldn’t know where to get school fees for my children. How I hope the good Lord blesses them,” she continues.
The bulk of Wanjiku’s land is covered in tree tomato. She refers to the fruit as Ribena in other contexts. She possesses 330 Ribena trees. “It took roughly a year for the Ribena trees to grow and bear fruit. My first harvest brought me KSh14,000.”
The beauty of this tree is that once you start harvesting, you continue every one to two weeks for the next eight years.
Wanjiku harvests about 100kgs of tree tomato weekly, selling each kilogramme for KSh60, making approximately KSh 6,000 each week.
She plants cabbages, too. She does around 1,000 that she harvests every three months and sells for KSh33 a head.
Kale, potatoes, and maize are some of the other crops she grows on a smaller scale for sustenance thanks to the reliable supply of water made possible by irrigation.