Farmers in Nakuru County have a reason to smile after the County’s Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries partnered with Geothermal Development Company (GDC) to fully incorporate geothermal power in farming.

GDC plans to drill more wells in the densely populated and farming areas such as Ol Rongai, Kwa Gitau, Rigogo, Boito, Ngata Farm, Menengai Station and Kabarak.

GDC environment manager Gabriel Wetang’ula said that apart from the use of steam in the generation of electricity, geothermal can be used in heating greenhouses, milk pasteurization, laundry, leisure and recreation.

“The expansion will make it easy for the firm and partners to come up with more innovative ways of using steam from the wells,” said Wetang’ula.

Already, a number of geothermal direct use projects such as fish rearing, tomato and capsicum farming among others are running at the Menengai caldera site.

The steam is used to heat and create an artificial environment favorable to fish rearing and vegetable growing in greenhouses.

The geothermal heat boosts productivity by reducing on disease and pest invasions as well as conforms to internationally accepted regulations on carbon emission.

Nakuru County CeC for Agriculture Dr Immaculate Maina hailed the projects.

“The collaboration is paramount as it will see local farmers increase their yields and carry out viable value addition projects for their produce,” Maina said.

She noted that various cooperatives, especially in the dairy industry, have collapsed due to lack of cheap and reliable energy to pasteurize milk.

The two were speaking when they led a team of their respective organization’s top officials on a tour of the pilot projects.

GDC began drilling at Menengai caldera site in February 2011 and has so far sunk over 35 wells with a confirmed output of 167MW.

The County Government of Nakuru has petitioned the National Assembly seeking an amendment to the Energy Act so that Nakuru County can start benefiting from the geothermal resources.