The government is set to publish a framework that will allow investors to lease idle land owned by government agencies and undertake large-scale commercial farming.
Agriculture and Livestock PS Harry Kimtai disclosed that the framework was complete, having been developed by a taskforce in conjuction with the Ministry of Lands. The move comes after the cabinet, chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta, in May 2022 approved a policy on large-scale commercialisation of public land in a bid to boost food security and lower the cost of living.
The framework lays down guidelines for the allocation of leases to investors. Importantly, Kimtai disclosed that they would require investors to offer evidence of their financial muscle as well as their previous involvement in investment activities.
This, he explained, is meant to avert situations where the land may remain idle after being leased out.
“We are not going to discriminate on individuals who want to invest in these lands, however, the person has to show us proof of being an investor as well as having a certain amount of money to lease the farm,” Kimtai asserted.
Among goverment agencies holding large tracts of dormant land are Kenya Railways, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), Kenya Prisons and East African Portland Cement (EAPC).
The framework primarily aims to free up land for commercial production of crops such as maize, beans and vegetables for local consumption. At the moment, large scale commercial farming in Kenya focuses on cash crops such as tea, cofee and flowers for export.
The plan also aims to free up land in arid and semi arid areas to facilitate growth of pasture for livestock. This includes government owned land in Isiolo, Samburu, Mandera, Lodwar and Wajir.
Livestock losses due to drought conditions are among the biggest challenges faced by pastoralist communities.
“We want to bring in people who can use this land for the production of pasture so that the pastoralists will not have to move to other regions such as Ethiopia and Uganda in search of fodder,” Kimtai stated.