KISII, Kenya, Sep 5 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has expressed optimism that the enactment of the proposed land policy would inspire proper use of land in Kenya for food production.
Mr Odinga on Friday assured Kenyans that the entrenchment of the developed policy into the constitution would put up sound land tenure and ownership systems that entail maximum utilisation of land for food production.
The Premier said: “The perennial food crisis afflicting the nation could only be amicably addressed when land was utilised appropriately for the common good of all of us.”
He cited cases in foreign countries where fragmented land masses were collectively consolidated under one holding for the commercial production of food crops. With an increasing population, land in Kenya is continually subdivided into smaller parcels as members inherit it from their parents. With the fragmentation has come reduced production – a precursor to the food crisis.
The PM told a funeral ceremony in Kisii that the policy was tailor made to factor in the emerging need for land due to population explosion, which has led to a trend of land grabbing in the country.
“We cannot continue to abet this culture of land grabbing that has become the order of the day to an extent that even public toilets are taken for selfish use,” he said.
Kenya has remained without a land policy since independence making it vulnerable to inequalities, corruption and exploitation. However, as many Kenyans fight for little parcels of land another group of rich and well connected political individuals are custodians of large tracts of land most of which lie idle.
Cabinet recently approved a land policy with far reaching reforms. Experts have hailed the policy as a big step towards correcting this mess. The policy is waiting debate in Parliament after which it will be implemented.
Mr Odinga made the remarks during the burial of Kerobina Kebat, the mother of a former Kitutu Chache MP Zacharia Onyonka and grandmother of the sitting MP in Kisii Central District Richard Onyonka.
The Premier said that the land grabbing habit was taking root as a way of life and regretted that even renowned national heroes had fallen victims of the practice.
He also took the occasion to commend the Gusii people for voting in an ODM candidate during the just concluded Bomachoge by election and saying the victory signalled better things to come in the party.
Mr Odinga urged Nyanza residents to freshly register as voters without fail to ensure they were factored in the new register under the newly formulated Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC).
He was accompanied by Cabinet Ministers Chris Obure, James Orengo and Franklin Bett during the emotional send-off that was also attended by local civic leaders.