Policy proposes moving Kenya’s rural population to towns to pave way for food growing

Prof. Micheni Ntiba (CBS) Agriculture Principal Secretary Sicily Kariuki during a final stakeholder's workshop on irrigation policy held in Nairobi. FILE

NAIROBI: The rural population could be moved to towns and other settlements to pave way to mechanised agriculture. This is aimed at boosting food production.

The Government also discourages subdivision of land into economically unviable units that cannot guarantee high food production. The State says setting aside more land for farming will ease the implementation of irrigation schemes and modernise agriculture.

These suggestions are contained in the draft policies prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. The policies include – Agriculture Policy; Food: Our Health, Wealth and Security, National Irrigation Policy, National Veterinary Policy and National Tea Policy which are under stakeholder consultation. Recently, Agriculture Principal Secretary Sicily Kariuki said the new policies once implemented, will radically change farming and land ownership in Kenya. “For example, by implementing the national irrigation policy, more land is likely to be put under irrigation and thus increase food production as well as help in reducing poverty and unemployment,” she said in an interview.

Ms Kariuki said the Agriculture Policy proposes movement of people in rural areas to towns, estates and settlement centres to consolidate agricultural land and boost food production. “The draft policies are geared towards guiding crop and animal production. Equally, this will enhance food security and nutrition for economic development,” said Ms Kariuki.

“Where feasible, and this applies to many rain-fed regions with private land ownership, a carefully considered policy of consolidating land for agricultural production should be implemented,” she noted. “This should take the form of setting apart a section or sections of ward or location for settlement as the rest of the land is consolidated for agriculture.”

But even in embracing the new policy, Ms Kariuki assured that land owners will still hold their title deeds and harvest produce within the consolidated parcels. She observed that the consolidation of land will allow for better agronomic practices such as mechanised agriculture and increase its attractiveness, particularly to the youth, and curtail further subdivision of agricultural land.

Under the proposal, villagers will be settled in identified zones to increasing efficiency in provision of social amenities such as electricity, water, access roads, health facilities, planned housing, disposal of sewage and better waste management. “There will be minimal degradation of rural agricultural land,” she added.


But Land Development and Governance Institute Chairman Ibrahim Mwathane said the Land Policy does not encourage land owners to voluntarily consolidate their land.

“The consolidation releases land for modern and mechanised farming and higher yields per unit area. This principle, however, needs to be first piloted before it is scaled up and if successful, it could provide alternatives to the recent attempt to force people to subscribe to lands limits.”

Most people in arid and semi-Arid land live in settlements usually for purposes of security and proximity to water points.