Government to lease land to private investors for food production
The Ministry of Agriculture is expected to kick off the Land Commercialisation Initiative targeting swathes of government land that is lying idle for crop and animal production.
The programme will be coordinated across government ministries and state departments working in Agriculture and Water to provide a harmonised solution to the food scarcity in the country and in the long-term reduce the cost of food.
According to Joseph Kirubi, the Secretary for Administration in the State Department for Crops Development, more than half a million acres of land has been identified in 8 potential sites across the country and the viable crops that can be grown in those areas.
“The country has been facing a lot of challenges when it comes to feeding its people. We have been recipients of food aid and importing food and edible oils and yet we are an agricultural country,” he said.
The government is looking for private investors to lease the available land, produce crops animals as well as value addition. One of the hallmarks of this program is mechanisation of farming.
“When you mechanise you reduce the cost of production, and it will be easier to sell the produce at a lower cost,” said Laban Kiplagat, the Chief Engineer State department for crop development.
Kenya is recovering from one of the worst droughts witnessed in the horn of Africa in 4 decades and the government says this project will be implemented with climate change adaptation at the core of it.
“We respond to climate change by adaptation through water harvesting for irrigation, growing crops that are early maturing and livestock that are adapted to the current climatic conditions,” added Kiplagat.
Some of the sites identified for the Land Commercialisation Initiative are:
Egerton University where 200 acres has been set apart for an Agro-science Park; 10,000 acres at the Galana Kulalu irrigation scheme; and Bura Irrigation scheme has set apart 25,000 acres.
Additionally, Tana Delta irrigation Project has 10,000 acres for rice production; Kiambere in Embu county has 1000 acres for fruit and vegetable production; NYS Kirimun Filed Unit in Laikipia will provide 20,000 acres for livestock production; and 1000, acres in TARDA Masinga for sorghum and corn production.
The Ministry of Agriculture also want to boost local edible oil production to bridge the gap that is being serviced by imports. Representatives from the Ministries of Water, Trade and Lands and affiliated state departments and agencies have since met to come up with an implementation strategy.
“We have brought the stakeholders together to agree on the framework where all of us move forward with understanding,” said Kirubi
The government hopes to implement the Land Commercialisation through Public- Private Partnerships. Agriculture, contributes 40 percent to the country’s GDP and is one of the largest employers in the country.