Kenya offers 21,000 acres NYS, Tarda land lease to boost food production

An Aerial photograph of the flooded Tana river in Kenya (Photo: Sgt R A Ward)
The Nation | 14 February 2024

Kenya offers 21,000 acres NYS, Tarda land lease to boost food production

By Patrick Alushula
The Agriculture and Livestock Ministry has opened up 21,000 acres of idle land belonging to the National Youth Service (NYS) and Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (Tarda) for commercial leases in a bid to boost food security.
The ministry said the leases would be part of its land commercialisation initiative (LCI), which targets to lease up to 500,000 acres of idle pieces and attract at least Sh65 billion in agricultural investments.
"The government of Kenya seeks interested and qualified commercial agribusinesses and investors with demonstrated technical and financial capacity to undertake farming, (agri-) forestry, and other agriculture-related activities on land sites identified under the LCI,” the ministry said in a tender call for investors to take up land in Samburu and Kiambere held by the NYS and Tarda.
The State said it will lease 20,000 acres within Samburu Kirimun field held by NYS currently dedicated to livestock production, wildlife conservancy, and tree plantations.
“The Government of Kenya aims to select one or multiple private operations who can start agricultural and or forestry activities,” the ministry said about the NYS Kirimun land, which is the largest of 22 agricultural sites owned by the State agency.
An additional 1,000 acres held by Tarda near Kiambere hydropower dam are also up for leasing. The State had between 1996 and 2005 run a 350-acre irrigated farming project on the Tarda land in Kiambere where it produced mangoes, bananas, citrus, tomatoes, onions, and various other crops. However, declining reservoir water levels led to the discontinuation of the project due to prohibitive costs.
Tarda now seeks new development prospects, including agricultural leases, solar panel installations, or tree plantations, for the surrounding land.
In a new shift, Kenya targets to lease out underutilised public land to the private sector for commercial agriculture projects.
The initiative targets to reduce the staple food deficit by at least 50 per cent, create 1.1 million jobs, increase farmers’ incomes, and promote value addition.
Other lands identified for the LCI project include Egerton University where 200 acres have been set apart for an Agro-science Park, 10,000 acres at the Galana Kulalu irrigation scheme, and 25,000 acres of Bura Irrigation scheme.
Additionally, Tana Delta Irrigation project has 10,000 acres for rice production while Kiambere in Embu County has 1000 acres for fruit and vegetable production.
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