When the proprietors of the Aberdare Hills Golf Resort were drafting plans for a mega golf course, they knew that they would face a lot of challenges with finding water to irrigate the greens-the golf course sits on a 1600-acre property.
Luckily, the project’s Managing Director Dr. Pritam Panesar has been in the construction and engineering business for decades. He quickly allocated space for a 3 million-litre capacity dam at one of the highest points of the farm.
The dam is already full, thanks to the El Nino rains that fell in the past three months.
Panesar, 73, has set up grand scale projects in remote countries like Iraq, where he has had to use ingenious water harvesting techniques like the one he has at his farm in Naivasha.
Such strategic water harvesting techniques, before planting, could help Kenyan farmers increase their production through irrigation.
“The hard part was constructing the dam, because the water will be flowing to where it is needed by gravity,” said Panesar.
Overeliance on rainfed agriculture has been one of the key reasons most farmers have had failing yields in recent times.
There is a close relationship between sustainable food production and irrigation. A comparison between Kenya and Egypt, for instance, shows that despite being a desert country with a 90 per cent of the country relying on irrigation water for farming, Egypt still produces more food than Kenya.
Kenya has 5.4 million hectares of arable land, but only 17% is suitable for rainfed farming.
Two-thirds of Africa’s roughly 13,400 hectares of irrigation-equipped land is concentrated in North Africa. Water withdrawals as a share of total renewable resources is 219 percent in northern Africa, but only one per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa.