The Tana River is a major water resource in the area. The expansive delta created by the river is characterized by wetlands, presenting great potential for agriculture. The water is used for irrigation of the produce. This sector thus provides the veins that keep the county economy productive. The sector employs over 80% of the county’s workforce; is a source of household income raw materials for agro-based industries; assists in environmental conservation. Agriculture is mainly small scale with production of food crops using non-mechanized techniques.
The main crops in the project area include maize, rice, mangoes (an important cash crop) and bananas. Other crops include cassava, greengrams, beans, peas, melons, cowpeas, papaws, tomatoes, kales, onions, cabbages and some sugar cane
Tana river county government will encourage value addition to crops that are produced within the county. These include developing fruit processing industries like Mango, Banana,Pawpaws, packaging and branding commodities from the county and establishing linkages with research institutions to develop better crops.
The county has an abundant and oversupply supply of mango fruit for fruit processing plant. This can be juice extraction, canning, jams, marmalade, etc. Also, there is an supply of melon and tomatoes to support a medium sized plant to process the fruit into various products.
Various varieties of bananas grow in the county making this an attractive agro – product for value addition due to its abundance. Investors are invited to set up processing plants for this readily available products into juice, crisps, wafers, cakes and flour amongst others.
Cold Tolerant Oil Palm
The study of cold tolerant palm oil was done in the 1960’s as an alternative crop in the area. It is a tropical crop which can be grown in wet swampy areas to the South of the project area. They can also be grown in hot humid conditions and warm climates. Palm oil can do well in swampy areas of Kibarani, Kipao and Onkolde and it is used as oil and fibre and has high market value.
Soya beans can be grown in tropical areas like the proposed project area as one way of enriching the soils. The crop may be grown along the river terraces. Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) has developed the variety to suit the Tana Delta area. Soya beans is ideal for inter-cropping with other traditional crops and it has market value for children feed, protein for family and fodder.