Farmer-led irrigation development in Kenya: Characteristics and opportunities
Farmer-led irrigation development (FLID) is not a new phenomenon and has been happening throughout the centuries in all countries where irrigation is practised. Despite this, planners, policy makers, funders, including engineers have generally taken the perception that irrigation development occurs mainly in “irrigation schemes”. Although farmer-led irrigation happens in formal irrigation schemes, there is a substantive amount of irrigation development implemented quietly by self-motivated individual farmers on their own initiatives. Such irrigation remains unrecognized, un-recorded and thus ignored in the realm of the irrigation sector decision-makers. The term FLID was coined just recently in 2017, and through it, there is emerging a wealth of knowledge on the technologies, practices, economic, marketing, financing and social components regarding how this sub-sector operates. Indeed FLID is not tacitly captured in Kenya’s policies, statutes and development plans. Its extent is largely unknown since it has not been targeted in any mapping exercise. Yet, as irrigation transitions more from public to private investment, FLID is the next big thing pushing the growth of irrigation in Kenya. This paper therefore highlights some of the salient features of FLID, a sub-sector of interest towards enhancing irrigation development and food security in Kenya.
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