Kenya not ready to redistribute large farms

Communities salivating for large- scale farms owned by multinational firms in the hope the property will revert to local wananchi at the end of lease expiry period are in for a rude shock.

Lands and Physical Planning Cabinet Secretary, Prof Jacob Kaimenyi in the presence of his Principal Secretary Dr Nicholas Muraguri sent the signal at Ardhi House recently where a battery of journalists were informed of the explosive ownership of the large-scale property owners. “Let no one salivate for either private or public land. Invaders will be flushed out.

Such people are economic saboteurs. It’s unconstitutional and does not augur well in the spirit of doing business,” he said. The CS said extensions and renewals of lease for large-scale landowners should be based on the benefits to the economy and the country as a whole and the national development goals and objectives.

In contrast, the land policy in Zimbabwe has been repossession from white settlers of large farms and ranches for redistribution to the ‘citizens’ — usually the elite.

During the colonial era, the best farmland was reserved for the white population and in 2000, President Robert Mugabe spearheaded the seizure of the land from some 4,000 white farmers.

Two years ago, Mugabe admitted failures in the country’s controversial and his government has made a U -turn. Such demands have played out locally, with sections of leaders in counties where leases by multinational firms have since expired.

In Murang’a county the issue divided leaders over the renewal of the Italian pineapple grower, Delmonte Kenya Limited in Makuyu. Nandi Hills MP, Alfred Keter, from a region that is home to multinational tea companies had threatened to block renewal for large tracts of land owned by the elite. Guidelines on processing of leases were gazetted last month.

“They will be implemented in line with the rules and regulations that are being prepared for implementation of the new land laws. Kaimenyi took the action as part of wide-ranging reforms the ministry has been taking to streamline the process of renewal of leases on a priority basis.

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