A proposal by the Kenyan agriculture ministry seeks to move people from their land to town estates in a bid to create room for large scale farming. It’s good news, Kenya will invest in agriculture. But is this the way?
It seems good news that Kenya allocates 10 per cent of the total national budget to agriculture to alleviate poverty, create jobs and enhance food security. Not only because this finally copes with the Maputo Declaration, but for that it gives agriculture the appreciation it deserves.
Agriculture is the continent’s most neglected and important potential competitive advantage. That’s not what I say, that’s what Mark Ashurst and Stephen Mbithi from the Africa Research Institute learned us, with their publication ‘Why Africa can make it big in agriculture’.
Movement of millions
The policy proposes movement of millions of people in rural areas to town estates or settlement centres with a view to consolidate agriculture land and boost food production, the Daily Nation wrote. Will this Kenyan policy really be so great?
It sounds like a doubtful villagization program. What future is there for those people? And will they voluntarily leave their homes and the land of their ancestors?
Making farming attractive
And what about the agriculture they have in mind? The plan, the policy document adds, would enable application of better farming methods such as use of machinery, hence making farming attractive to millions of youth.
Millions of youth? Who will that be? Will it be the people that are forced from their land? Or will the land be sold to people who can afford it?
“I suspect that this Kenyatta government succumbs to the offer of land for foreign investors”, someone told me today.
Who is telling me this person is wrong? Is it really a step forward to institutionalise land grab? Or is this exactly the development that Kenya needs?
© Marc van der Sterren | Farming Africa