Article: Land sub-division hurting Kenya’s farming – Kipkemboi Rotuk

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[Source: Business Daily]

Kenya is an agricultural economy. Even with the advances and aspirations of being a manufacturing-driven economy, agriculture will continue remaining a key component in supplying raw materials, or at least food.

However, it is also not possible to talk of food security without mentioning land tenure which is directly correlated with economies of scale and hence the pricing matrix.

A quick drive through West and Central Kenya shows the extent to which land which has great agricultural potential has been reduced to homes and other investments.

In Kisii, for instance, the average acreage is probably 0.5 acres or less and it keeps reducing. This is not helped by traditional beliefs that one must put up a house on their ancestral land.

Across the developed world, there has been a deliberate effort to prevent uneconomical land subdivisions, and in some cases restrictions on the area of land under houses and other developments in agricultural areas.

In rural England and the US, laws prohibit subdivision of farm land and use of agricultural land, and this has enabled the development of huge farm lands, such as the ranches in Texas and the huge potato fields in England. Farmers must produce or the lease is revoked.

It is, therefore, the right time for the government to formulate land policy governing the minimum land holding and agricultural land use. In the Kenyan context, it will be important to not only specify the minimum acreage but also acceptable land use, such as at least 20 percent of the land under tree cover and the housing, leaving 80 percent for meaningful agricultural activities. Subject to subsidy programmes, the land holders have to produce.

Failure to address this issue will lead to continued shrinking of land available under food production, and the country could end up being a net importer of food that is already the case anyway from the maize imports regularly.

[Source: Business Daily]


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