19 December 2012

Kenya: Rules in Pipeline to Check Farmland Use

New rules, general and place-specific, on farmland use in Kenya will be set by the Cabinet secretary for Agriculture once a new bill is gazetted into law.

The scope will cover preservation, utilisation and development of agricultural land to ensure owners and occupiers use land as prescribed by rules of good estate management.

The Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food Authority Bill 2012 says the Cabinet secretary will be advised by the new authority (ALFFA) and consult with the National Land Commission.

Such land development guidelines will be implemented by respective county governments "taking into account the circumstances of the respective areas under their jurisdiction."

The rules may regulate, control or prohibit cultivation of land or keeping of livestock and game animals. Besides, they will control erection of buildings and other works on agricultural land.

The land development guidelines will be adopted to suit systems of management and farming practice in relation to different areas of the country, according to the bill. Many farmland owners around major towns have in recent years opted to convert their chunks into mixed-use developments as agricultural yields wane.

Such owners now seek to exploit skyrocketing prices in the real estate sector brought about by ongoing investments in infrastructure. Huge chunks of coffee farms have suffered this fate especially in Kiambu and Ruiru.

In Ruiru, Renaissance Capital's Tatu City - under construction - sits on about 2,500 acres formerly used for coffee farming. Other major real estate projects around Nairobi such as Thika Greens, Migaa, Eden Ville, and Suraya's Fourways Junction have also seen coffee bushes pave way for brick and mortar.

In Nanyuki, private wildlife conservancy Ol Pejeta is building 100 luxury homes for sale, while other projects such as Mt Kenya Holiday Homes have sprouted around Mt Kenya.

Eldoret has welcomed its first major real estate project, Sergoit Golf and Wildlife Resort, sitting on 3,000 acres formerly used as a ranch. Several ranches around Naivasha have also been converted into mixed-use real estate sites including the Longonot Gate and the Aberdare Hills Golf Resort.

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