We Need to Question and Evaluate the Land Policy in Kenya.
I was traveling from central London to Bedfordshire and decided to simply keep my eyes busy with the environment around me. It didn’t take me long to notice what a proper land policy can do especially in terms of planning both physical and urban at the same time.
A distance of almost equivalent to a drive from Nairobi CBD to Kasarani and you see a tract of land used for large-scale farming. I saw a lot of 50 by 100 in these tracts of land back in Kenya. But a peek into this success and one notices it has taken a lot of strengthening of land policies in this country.
The truth is that the UK land policy is not 100% perfect but then the strides made are very commendable. The national government is responsible for the preparation of the National Planning Policy Framework which spells out the planning policies for the government in England.
The advantage of the strides made has more to do with the levels of shoddy deals at play. There are planning policies in our country Kenya but those policies have not been implemented and if they have, then the implementation has been shoddy.
For instance, while traveling from some “village” to a nearby town called Milton Keynes, one cannot fail to notice proper planning at play in the town as is in the areas of abode within these areas. Unethical land fragmentation has not swept through this specific place.
Another commendable thing to note is how trees have been grown on a big scale around here. Within major towns here, trees are planted in the city, and town centers on massive scales. The last time I checked, we have cut so many trees and cleared so much vegetation in the city of Nairobi for the last 10 years as never before.
We need to do something as a city on tree planting in the city of Nairobi and the country at large. For a long time, we have been known as the green city in the tropics. Yet we must understand that that is a description that can be easily lost unless we put efforts into owning it in word and reality.
There have been arguments that development is the reason some hard decisions have been taken some of which have impacted the flora and fauna in the city of Nairobi. Such a lame argument fails to factor in the balance and complementarity of both components. When sustainability comes to play, it always finds a way to do development in such a way that it doesn’t hemorrhage other key components such environment.
The productivity of land is measured by multiplying the gross revenue per acre by the landowner’s share divided by the capitalization rate. In advanced economies, the state sets the landowner’s share and capitalization rate whereby the landowner’s share depends on the percentage of cropland and non-cropland. The cap rate on the other depends on economic situations which often change as a result of fiscal policies locally and globally.
We thus remain with gross revenue as the factor that remains under the control of the farmer. If we make an assumption that the cap rate and the landowner’s share are constant for three years, the variable remains the gross revenue.
How does a farmer thus increase gross revenue from their land? They have to find a way to increase the yields. If for example, the approach to farming was purely manual, they may need to consider mechanization.
Secondly, in the age of industry 4.0, they may need to invigorate A.I in their farming methods to help with optimizing the general crop environment both above and below the land. Another point is to use properly certified seeds and manure or fertilizers.
The catch however lies in the principle of mass production used in the manufacturing world to cut down the cost of operation and increase efficiency. The farmer needs to have enough land that is feasibly mechanizing besides having the capital capability to undertake these and many other measures aimed at increasing productivity.
In the Kenyan context, land fragmentation is the first thing huddle that a farmer will find on their way followed by a lack of capital or access to thereby, especially for smallholder farmers. And remember this is on the farming side alone.
The other side of good land policy is in the planning component. Looking at the population density per area unit visa vis the amenities that they will need and ensuring availability of those amenities. Let’s take the case of Eastland for example.
Kaloleni, Makongeni, Bahati, Jericho, Jerusalem, and Shaurimoyo were initially planned with proper sewage lines, social places such as playing fields, social halls, and walking and driving pathways. Over time people increased in those areas uncontrollably up to until now the places which once prided themselves of the who was in who in Nairobi went into oblivion.
It is high time, as the government wasn’t to do upgrading of those areas to be very keen in the approach they give it. Had the right measures been put in place, those places would be in proper states. Now that people are using those land inappropriately, it looks like there ass been (and there is) no planning at all and that there is no land policy that can dictate the usage and development of those lands.
There is a lot that needs to be learned and done for sure if we can seriously say that we are having candid discussions on being food secure and having sustainable cities. Among the many developmental issues, we are having on the global stage is the issue of urbanization.
However, there is little we are talking about because some of these discussions touch on the people with the money and also one of the most sensitive issues of land. But at some point tradeoffs have to be made if we are to make serious progress such as ‘devolving’ the concept of urbanization.
For now, we seriously need to consider addressing things such as land policies and issues in the third world and developing worlds. It is such a critical issue that may determine whether some countries will ever become first-world countries on never.
Let’s discuss these issues.