NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 16 – President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged his government’s support to the National Land Commission saying that resolving land ownership disputes would work toward improving food security.
Speaking during the opening of the 11th Parliament,the President said his government will abide by the law governing land ownership.
“We will support the National Land Commission, and fund the adjudication and titling of land, assisting them in their endeavour to promote land ownership as a factor of production and thereby enhance food security,” the President said.
Kenyatta, whose family’s vast tracts of land was a bone of contention during the second presidential debate, has also promised that his government will propose legislation to address eviction and the resettlement of internally displaced persons and squatters.
The bills, Kenyatta added, would propose a solution to the land disagreements that have dogged the nation for decades by removing emotion from the equation and shifting the focus to land as a key to economic growth.
“My government is determined to provide solutions to land issues so that land once again can be seen for what it is: a factor of production among many.”
“We will propose bills to address: eviction and resettlement of internally displaced persons and squatters, management and adjudication of community land, leasing and public asset management,” Kenyatta said in his statement.
Also in a bid to improve food production, Kenyatta said his government would work toward opening up a million acres of land through irrigation.
“We must invest in and modernise our agriculture and open up at least one million acres of new land through irrigation in order to end food insecurity.”
Also in a bid to improve overall security, especially in drought prone areas such as North Eastern Kenya, the Head of State promised to build more dams and therefore negate the need to fight over water.
“Kenya has been the victim of perennial droughts and floods, every other year we have a drought or floods. This cycle has an adverse effect on not only our food production but on our infrastructure and our economy as a whole. We have commissioned the relevant ministries to work out a framework for building dams and pans for water retention on a massive scale.”
Kenyatta also pledged that his government will support farmers by reviving extension services and encourage a shift from subsistence to commercial farming that would translate to increased national revenue.
“Through improved financing, irrigation, research; development and the return of extension services we will enable farmers to move from subsistence to commercial farming.”
The economy, Kenyatta added, would also stand to benefit from value added agricultural produce which will fetch higher prices in the international market; a market Kenyatta said his government will work toward expanding, “We must drive growth by diversifying our exports, adding value, creating new products and opening up new markets.”
In his time in office, Kenyatta also said, farmers’ concerns about the cost and effort of getting their produce to market will be addressed: “We must establish a first class logistics hub, covering transport, roads, railways, waterways, pipelines, ports, storage and energy.”