Bunyala Irrigation Scheme was started in 1959 with an initial 534 acres under paddy rice production. It has been under production since then. Irrigation water is pumped form River Nzoia and flows by gravity through open earth channel to the farms. Due to increased demand for rice, two new pumps sets were installed in 2005 and two more were also installed in 2007. This brought the combined discharge to 1.2m3/s. With the widening of the main canal, the Scheme acreage was expanded to over 1,600 acres on the left bank of the river. On the right bank of the river, two pump sets (with a capacity of 0.15m3/s each) were also installed in 2007 hence commanding an additional 250 acres at Ruambwa/Mudembi. Currently, the Scheme irrigates 1,880 acres with 1,394 farming households.
Although, long term plans to increase area under irrigation are underway, there is need to take steps that will increase land under irrigation and crop intensity within a short period. The following were carried out;
- Extending the canal at Muluwa Phase II to bring under irrigation additional 200 acres.
- Extending the canal at Mudembi to bring under irrigation additional 200 acres at Ruamwa/Mudembi Phase V.
- Cropping intensity was increased from 90% to 150% by introducing two crops in a year as opposed to one crop. This has not only reduced field fallow time but has also increased production under the same acreage.
The scheme expansion is ongoing in order to improve food security in line with government’s Big Four Agenda and Vision 2030. For long term sustainability, the scheme is being converted to gravity fed through Lower Nzoia Irrigation Development Project that is currently under implementation.
The irrigation potential in the area is about 20,000 acres (on both banks of the river) with over 20,000 direct beneficiaries spread over Busia and Siaya Counties. About 10% of irrigation potential has been utilized yet the remaining portion is yet to be developed. The Lower Nzoia Irrigation Development Project (LNIDP), once completed will bring under production 10,000 acres on the left bank under the first phase. The second phase will bring similar acreage under irrigation on the right bank. However, it will take 3-4 years before the construction of the first phase is completed. The modalities of the second phase are still under discussion. Nevertheless, there is need to increase irrigated agriculture in the region urgently in order to boost food production. Due to increased demand for irrigated agriculture in the area, the Scheme has been expanded on both banks of the river as follows;
- Left Bank – Muluwa, Nemali, Munaka, Luwamoro, Nanjomi, Buhowa and Siamungu;
- Right Bank – Ruambwa/Mudembi.
Due to the above intervention, the Scheme acreage expanded from 534 acres in 2006 to 1,880 acres in 2018.
The Scheme embarked in increasing rice production through;
- Expanding land under irrigation
- Increasing cropping intensity and diversification
- Increasing yield per unit area
The above interventions led to increased food security. In the financial year 2017/2018, the rice yield increased to 5,350 tons up from 3,650 tons the previous year for the same acreage.
Figure 4: Farmers at Bunyala scheme rice seedling
- Location/County – Busia County / Siaya County
- Year of establishment – 1964
- Gazetted Area – 1,880 Acres
- Main Crop – Rice
- Area under Irrigation – 1734 Acres
- Source of irrigation water – River Nzoia
- No. of household farmers – 1,394 Households
- Type of irrigation – Basin irrigation system
- Other Crops – Pulses and Horticulture
Projected Benefits/ Benefits being realized
- Food security
- Employment creation
- Wealth creation thereby improving living standards (e.g. Health, Education, Shelter, and general)