The dam will increase the production of rice in the area from the current 25, 000 to 35,000 acres.
Addressing wananchi after commissioning the dam, the President said rice production in Mwea irrigation scheme would also increase from 114,000 metric tonnes to 200,000 metric Tonnes.
President Ruto was accompanied by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, CS nominee for Water and Irrigation Alice Wahome, National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichungwa, Governors Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi) and Cecily Mbarire (Embu) among others.
The Head of State noted that the project would further increase value of production from Sh10 billion to Sh18 billion a year, creating additional 50,000 jobs.
“I wish on behalf of the people of Kenya to sincerely thank the government of Japan and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the support and partnership that has made it possible to complete this project,” said Dr Ruto.
President Ruto said the high cost of living in the country can only be addressed through increased production.
“As part of efforts to ensure farmers produce enough food, we have released 1.5 million bags of fertilisers for farmers to make use of the short- term rains,” he said
He added:”We will also release another 7 million bags of fertilisers for farmers to prepare ahead of planting season, early next year.’
Dr Ruto,at the same time, assured Kenyans that the approach the Government was taking in addressing the high cost of living would result to a permanent solution to the problem.
“Those who are criticising us now used Sh 8 billion to subsidize Unga which never reached wananchi. We can use the same amount to secure 6 million bags of fertilisers to enable our farmers produce more. We have a different approach different from theirs,” said Dr Ruto.
He said the recent high cost of fertilisers had demoralised farmers, leading to decreased production.
As a measure to ensure the country reduces reliance on rain fed agriculture, the President said plans were underway to irrigate 600,000 acres of land including horticultural production across the country.
“It’s through irrigation that we can get lasting solution to the severe famine and drought currently facing some parts of the country, never witnessed in the last 40 years,” he said
Dr Ruto urged Kenyans to take matters of environmental conservation seriously as part of efforts to address issues to do with the climate change.
He said plans were underway to plant 5billion trees across the country, noting that the project could easily be implemented if every Kenyan planted 100 trees.
The Deputy President told the Opposition leaders to criticize the Government constructively on the country’s state of the economy, saying they were to blame for the high cost of living.
“Our friends in the Opposition now absconded duty to join the previous government and are part of the current mess. They should give us a break. We’ve good plans for this country,” said Mr Gachagua.
Mr Ichungwa said the high cost of living could only be addressed through increased productivity, saying the country has moved away from over reliance on rain fed agriculture.
Japan Ambassador to Kenya Okaniwa Ken said they would continue to cooperate with Kenya in ensuring increased production of rice in the country.
Ms Waiguru who is also the chairperson Council of Governors said the completion and consequent release of water will more than double the current rice production capacity.
Governors Mbarire and Njuki said irrigation projects will go a long way in ensuring farmers have adequate supply of water to their farms.
Rose Wambura and John Patrick who spoke on behalf of rice farmers said the increased supply of water is the news that every rice farmer in Mwea has been waiting.
“We want to expressed our gratitude to the President for the effort to ensure water from the dam is finally flowing to the farms,” said Mr Wambura.