Government to arrest Kenyans with idle land

An idle piece of land in Kenya. Government to soon compel owners of such land to use it for agriculture : COURTESY

Ministry of Agriculture is working on a bill that will see Kenyans with idle land arrested for wasting national resources

According to the country’s cabinet secretary for Agriculture,Willy Bett, the ministry intends to work in partnership with the Ministry of Land to develop a law that will compel owners of unused land to pay higher taxes on the properties should they fail to either use

If you have land and you are not using it, it is just in order that we compel you to lease it out. If not, then you will pay penalties. We will look into the law to make that possible,” said Mr Bett.

This is coming on a the back drop of a recent study by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that shows that Africa is accounting for only 10 per cent of the total global agricultural output despite being home to 25 per cent of the world’s arable land

The study revealed that the continent can feed the world if all idle land is effectively used for agriculture. In Kenya, a huge chunk of fertile land lie idle under the custody of parastatals and private owners, yet the country is faced with perennial food shortage due to under production.

For instance, the country is producing below 40 million bags of its staple food, maize per year, against a demand of 51 million bags per year, leading perennial food shortage.

According to World Bank, 1.3 million Kenyans were facing starvation last year, and the figure to go up considering that maize production dropped 20- 30 per cent due to insufficient long rains and infestation by the fall armyworm

FAO estimates that at least 239 million people in Sub Saharan Africa will go to bed on empty stomach tonight, this despite the continent boasting of huge arable land and reliable climate in the world

The low production has forced the continent into importing food worth $35-50 billion every year to seal its huge deficit. This is equivalent to 10 per cent of the region’s Gross Domestic Product estimated at $3.3 trillion