Kenya Cabinet gives nod to farming on unused state land

The Government of Kenya will repossess unused land from parastatals and lease it to private investors for commercial farming to accelerate food production for local supply and exports and create new jobs.

Cabinet has approved the seizure of unused land with the aim of enhancing food security and reducing the cost of living. Parastatals holding vast undeveloped lands include Kenya Railways, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, East African Portland Cement, Kenya Prisons and the University of Nairobi.

“Cabinet has approved the Policy for the Large-Scale Commercialization of Public Lands Held for Agricultural Production. The policy aims to provide a framework for the utilization of unused land owned by public institutions for large-scale commercial agricultural production,” a Cabinet dispatch said.

Large-scale agricultural production

In the past, the government failed in its attempts to revive large-scale agricultural production with projects such as the Galana Kulalu irrigation scheme. The Galana/Kulalu Food Security Project was launched in 2015 with the intention of opening over 1.2 million acres of land owned by the Agricultural Development Corporation to irrigation.

Kenya’s agro-trading sector currently focuses on commodities such as tea, coffee, fruits, vegetables and flowers, which are major earners of foreign exchange. The country is now seeking large-scale commercial production of food crops like maize, beans and vegetables for the domestic market.

Official data shows that the country’s agricultural production growth fell to -0.1% last year, compared to a 5.2% increase recorded in 2020, mainly due to poor rains which led to a reduction in production. plant and animal production. That saw the cost of food staples like corn and vegetables hit record highs, pushing consumer inflation to 6.47% year-on-year in April from 5.56% a month earlier.

The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) said the food situation in Kenya has deteriorated, with the number of people in need of assistance falling from 2.1 million in August to 2.8 million at the end of last year, because of the failure of the short circuit October-November December. rains.

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