Ahero Irrigation Research Station
Establishment of Ahero Irrigation Research Station (AIRS) is linked to the decision by the Kenya Government in mid-1966 to start a pilot irrigation scheme at Ahero under the then newly established National Irrigation Board. The pilot scheme was intended to generate data to facilitate exploitation of the irrigation potential of the Kano Plains.
In order to support irrigated agriculture in the planned pilot scheme and the greater Kano Plains, the National Irrigation Authority then (Board) in 1968 set up the Ahero Irrigation Research Station in the middle of the plains with the support of the Government of Netherlands. Accordingly, the research station was under supervision of ILACO Euro consult BV until 1977. Thereafter, cooperation between National Irrigation Authority and the Dutch Government continued through DTH (Directorate for Technical Aid of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) through a project named ORTP (Operational Research and Training Project). DTH assisted by providing technical experts, vehicles, office and laboratory equipment, training of counterpart staff among others.
The Station was set up to investigate the possibilities for irrigated agriculture in the pilot scheme. Initial focus was on identifying suitable crops and varieties to be grown, fertilizer trials, tillage trials, herbicide trials, planting date trials, irrigation trials, crop protection and mechanization trials. Initially, rice and sugarcane were identified to be the most suitable crops. Other crops tested were cotton, maize, sunflower, soya beans, groundnuts, sesame, castor seeds and other pulses.
Accordingly, rice was adopted as the main crop in the scheme with sugarcane as a minor crop. Sugarcane production was later abandoned mainly due to marketing constraints. The Station continues to be the major irrigation research Centre in Western Kenya with a mandate to cover all the National Irrigation Authority irrigation projects in the region including the Western Kenya Schemes, Perkerra, Turkana projects and the new projects in Lower Sio River and Lower Kuja River.
- Acquisition and selection of new rice varieties
- Rice seed production and certification
- Evaluation of crop husbandry technologies
- Crop Variety screening against major pests and diseases
- Soil fertility and fertilizer trials
- Alternative irrigated crop trials
- The agrostology of the rice plant
- Farm mechanization
- Water management trials
- Analysis of soil, water and plant tissue
- Developing weed control techniques
- Irrigation and drainage research
- Advisory extension services to farmers
- Collaborating research with stakeholders