Farmers call for revision of Yala land agreement


A harvester at the Dominion farms. Photo/File

Residents of Kadenge in Siaya District want a land use agreement with American investor Dominion Farm revised.

The Yala Swamp community, where the company is based, has accused the company of carrying out operations which go against the interests of locals.

John Atieno Ongwek, their chairman, said the community and the investor should review the agreement between the defunct Siaya and Bondo county councils and the firm.

Mr Ongwek said the initial agreement, done without consulting the community, stated that the investor would offer jobs to residents. Bondo County Council would get 20 per cent of the jobs while Siaya was to get 50 per cent with the rest going to other Kenyans, said Mr Ongwek.

“What we are now witnessing is the opposite, all employees of Dominion Farm are from outside this region and our people are being sacked every day,” he said.

He further claimed that an agreement that employees would be paid Sh300 per day had been overlooked, adding that they earn a paltry Sh150 after working for nine hours.

A Dominion official said that they were surprised by the raft of accusations and demands.

“We only came to assist but instead of being supported local leaders are fighting us, we are confused on who to turn to,” said farm director Chris Abir. Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda joined those calling for a review of the agreement.

Area ward representative Leonard Oriaro said residents did not want the investor to move away as he had helped reclaim Yala Swamp, bringing about some benefits.

“I will team up with my colleagues at the Siaya County Assembly to enforce a wetlands management plan that will restrict activities of the investor,” Mr Oriaro said.

He said that land allocated to Dominion should be reduced.

“Their dams flood over 1,200 and 900 acres in Alego and Bondo respectively, affecting horticulture in the area. Slashing part of the land they operate on will greatly reduce the effect of flooding,” he said.

Mr Abir said there was no justification for the demand. He said that there was a large parcel of land in the swamp that could be used by the community, adding that there was no need for reducing Dominion’s acreage.

“In the MoU we were given 17,000 acres of land which we have not exhausted, we were further asked to give 106 acres to Siaya and 150 acres to Bondo after reclamation them but we have even given them 490 acres and 690 respectively,” he said in a telephone interview.

Siaya governor Cornel Rasanga said the land was given to the investor for a 25-year lease which is renewable after every five years.