Land may hamper food security project launch
11 September 2013, 15:27
The Tana River County governor Hussein Dado has appealed for more consultations between the government and the local stakeholders before the launch of the Galana-Kulalu national food security project.
Dado insisted that because more than 80 percent of the land targeted for the 1.7 million acre project belonged to the Tana River County, the government should engage more with County stakeholders.
He said it was important for the national government as well as the Tana and Kilifi County leaders to address all the intricate land ownership details to pave way for the initiation and the success of the project.
Alluding lack of proper consultations, Dado maintained a rather silent and diplomatic stance when invited by the Agricultural Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei to address experts during a forum for consultants interested in tenders and contracts to oversee the project at the Shoroa Tourist Tented Camp at Galana Ranch on Tuesday.
He said, “All I wish to indicate is that with about 80 percent of the land set to be developed belonging to the Tana River County, it was necessary for more consultations to be held between the County governments and the central government.”
The project, taunted as one of the most ambitious government-initiated national food security project in the history of Kenya, has attracted some opposition from leaders in Kilifi and Tana River Counties. Recently, the deputy President William Ruto reassured the residents of the two Counties of more consultations before the initiation of the project to ensure there was fairness.
The Agriculture Cabinet Secretary assured that the government was keen to secure the best consultancy to ensure success in the professional planning of the project.
The government is seeking experts to ascertain whether the project is viable and also provide guidance on the various aspects to be incorporated before its launch.
The minister said that Kenya’s agriculture had failed as indicated by frequent food shortages affecting the country.
Lack of adequate food nationally, he noted, frequently forced the government to spend huge amounts of money importing maize and other food stuffs.
With Kenya relying mainly on agriculture which employs more than 80 percent of the work force to drive its economy, the Cabinet Secretary said it was paramount that the sector is managed professionally and profitably.
“The Jubilee government takes agriculture very seriously as the key to the future of the economy,” said Koskei adding that it was unfortunate that Kenya continued to record food deficits and struggled to meet food sufficiency as required under the millennium development goals.
He said that it was a shame that Kenya was still struggling to rid itself of the label of a country with ‘protracted hunger’ yet there was land and well trained experts capable of guiding the country to achieve food security.
The government, he reiterated, was fully determined to modernise agriculture through irrigation among other commercial and profitable innovations and stop dependence on rainfed agriculture.
The country, the minister said, was lucky that it had adequate land and the expertise required to reach required targets in food production.
He noted that various studies had been started including a soil analysis program which was presently 30 percent complete.
He assured that environmental issues would be covered under the consultancy project to ensure that the flow of the waters of the River Sabaki was not compromised through pollution or over exploitation downstream.
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