Reckless Land Fragmentation Risks our future Well-being.
Land has been a very slippery issue in almost all African countries. When it comes to Kenya, it is even more slippery as it has become the target for the most corrupt elite. When the dirty money exchanges hands, most people dispose it off in land and other infrastructural developments; mainly houses. A friend once told me that when you see a lot of buildings mushrooming up in prime lands or even lots of land and house purchases, then the level of corruption is very high.
It thus makes sense to note that over the recent past there has been a rising level in corruption cases in our countries with a corresponding increase in malpractices around land. Then there has been massive building and buildings cropping up. There has been multiple build ups of shopping malls too, which as another close friend of mine infers always, does not translate to industries.
Important to note is the fact that if we are to achieve tremendous growth around the big four; Agriculture, housing, manufacturing and healthcare, we must be keen to fight corruption tooth and nail. We are to ensure that we speak against graft as the ancient prophets did in old time. The difference today is that the so called “prophets” partake in the graft too and as such cannot speak against their fellow accomplishes or else they become target objects. Now that land has become the prime target, everybody is scrambling to purchase a piece or two for their own good.
While travelling to Kisii recently, I enjoyed looking at the vast amounts of land along the Mahi Mahiu to Mulot stretch. Past Mulot, the vast land mass declines a little and becomes even smaller as you enter Kisii region. The difference in those descriptions is a very interesting one. Where we expect to have large masses of fertile land under large scale farming is the place where you find fragments of land which can’t even feed the owners. Such small pieces of land in turn have poor agricultural practices on them which risk their future hope to the owners.
Most places across Kenya can fit this kind of description. Just across here in Kiambu, tracts of land that once used to be very fertile arable land for growing coffee and other food crops is now lined with palatial homes for the wealthy. The only difference between this places and our villages is the wealthy index. We have subdivided land without need or even plan and built small houses that dot the landscape like a cotton field. Now we have “village towns” that are very poor. Instead of learning from our mistakes, we keep committing them and hope tomorrow to be better.
Albert Einstein said that we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. It thus calls us to have a different approach to solve the problems that surround us around land. It is important to note that before we can begin to tackle the problem around land subdivision, we better understand its effects and root cause.
One of the most pertinent cause of land subdivision besides corruption is the aspect of culture. We grow with a mentality of land ownership as a measure of true African Manhood irrespective of ability. So we are always on the watch out for our parents to age so that the small 100 by 100 piece can be divided among us male members of the family. The science of inheritance is the thing. I am not against inheritance, but I am of the idea that it is high time we decided to change the mindset around that. As a matter of fact, there will be no land to inherit for the coming generations.
The greatest problem is that the issue to do with land ownership gets into our heads very early on that we grow up with our heads ticking just land. Once engrossed in us as we grow up, it becomes hard to change the mythology. We can begin to change the mindset from this generation going forward so that the story around land can begin to change.
The effect of this cultural mindset is that it has led to so much land fragmentation such that the effects are very visible and pertinent and soon they will be inevitable. I observed that poverty is set to hit us further unless our approach to issues changes. As the 2018/2019 budget was depicted, the rich will get richer and richer as the poor become poorer. Why so, because any measure geared to improve productivity and innovation around agriculture will be advantageous to the rich farmers only.
Making small farmers with small pieces of land cultivate enough for themselves and produce a surplus for commercial purposes will take forever. The small pieces they have are overstretched, with poor land practices and poor management techniques. A person will have several heads of cattle in a small piece of land which can barely sustain as little as two cattle. For those practicing crop planting, they never do rotation or intermixing or they don’t use appropriate farm inputs.
At the end, the production per piece declines gradually until the land becomes simply unproductive. In such cases too, the pieces of land due to subdivision cannot be helpful for large scale farming where mechanization can be employed with other newest technologies which can ensure increase in productivity.
To avoid further problems with such an approach in our land practices and management, it is high time we stopped further land fragmentation and put to good use the other land that has not been seriously subdivided to do large scale farming so that we can feed the nation. As we can all agree, the damage is already done and we can only mitigate any further effects arising from such poor land practices.
Let’s do changes to our land policy to ensure we spread the risk posed on our future survival. Remember our population growth is on the rise ever while the resources become meager and meager and they are characteristic as such. We have to survive never the less. It calls for smart thinking and a proper culture of us.
Copyright @ 2018.