Investors to bid for dormant State land

Ardhi House along Ngong Road in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Individuals and firms interested in investing in idle government land will have to show their financial muscle before they are allowed to start commercial farming at the State-owned farms.

Agriculture and Livestock PS Harry Kimtai said a committee had been tasked to come up with the leasing framework will also want proof of one having been involved in major investment activities as a requirement to be allocated land for farming under the programme.

He said the framework, which has been completed and currently awaiting its adoption, has been established in conjunction with the Ministry of Lands.

“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,” said Mr Kimtai.

The PS said the framework will help curb a scenario where one bids for a lease and then fails to utilise the allocated parcel.

The Cabinet, chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta, last month approved the policy on large-scale commercialisation of public land held for agricultural production.

The policy seeks to provide a framework for the utilisation of idle land owned by public institutions for large-scale commercial agricultural production.

Kenya is seeking a model where thousands of acres of public land will be leased to private investors for food and cash crop production that relies less on rain-fed agriculture in favour of irrigation.

Some of the parastatals holding vast but idle land include the Kenya Railways, the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, the East African Portland Cement, Kenya Prisons, and the University of Nairobi.

The PS said other vast lands that the government owns in areas such as Isiolo, Samburu, Mandera, Lodwar and Wajir will also be given to private investors to specifically grow pasture for livestock to avert animal deaths that are occasioned by drought.

“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,” he said.

Kenya’s commercial agro-sector currently focuses on produce like tea, coffee, fruits, vegetables and flowers, which are key foreign exchange earners.

Now, Kenya seeks large-scale commercial production of food crops like maize, beans and vegetables, targeted at the domestic market.

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