Govt to reclaim land to boost food security

Govt to reclaim land to boost food security
File image of maize. PHOTO| COURTESY

Owners of idle land will soon find themselves at loggerheads with the government as it institutes structures to compulsorily acquire land to put to agricultural use.

The move comes as the President Uhuru Kenyatta prioritized agriculture in his four point agenda for his second term, with the government now keen to raise the size of land under food production.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said his ministry is already crafting the necessary policies required for the move.

“We need to enact laws now that the private owners are compelled to use them or if they can’t use it there are commercial entrepreneurs who are willing to come and use the land,” Mr Bett said.

“We are going to punish people owning land and they are not using it. But we are going to use policy intervention to implement that,” he stressed.

Already the ministry has earmarked 60,000 acres of fertile land held by state agencies and a few private owners for the acquisition.

According to Mr Bett, the land would be given to commercial famers with maize, rice and wheat as the three main crops eyed in the food security project.

“As we struggle to feed ourselves there’s a huge chunk of arable land which is lying idle in one part of Kenya or the other,” the CS said.

The government plans to be self sufficient in maize production by 2020.

Reporting by Lillie Makena

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