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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 2 November 2014

GREEDY SHARKS NOW EYE GOVERNMENT RESEARCH LAND

A government research organisation is set to lose property worth more than Sh20 billion if urgent measures are not taken to ward off grabbers who have for years been eyeing its prime parcels of land and infrastructures therein.
The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation which was previously known as Kenya Agricultural Research Institute is crying due to imminent loss of its prime pieces of land that are used by its Dairy Research Institute based in Naivasha sub-county within Nakuru county.
Livestock technologies and breeds developed in the institute have benefitted not only Kenya but many other countries in the Eastern and Central African sub-region.
Dr Titus Lanyasunya who is the DRI director says of the institute’s seven parcels of land, the government is set to lose five of them to powerful individuals in current and past regimes as well to other fraudsters claiming ownership of the same pieces of land.
“Kalro has seven pieces of land measuring about 10,000 acres but of these, about half is either already taken away or is on the verge of being grabbed. This is a very sad state of affairs given the importance of research in nation building,” said Lanyasunya. He equated the grabbing of research land facilities to grabbing of referral hospitals which Kenyans rely on for critical services. It is not only shameful but immoral whichever one looks at it. That is why we are asking all concerned, especially the government to intervene,” Lanyasunya said in an interview.
All the parcels of land are situated less than five kilometres from Naivasha town with some being adjacent to Lake Naivasha, which make them very prime and attractive to investors interested in floriculture, horticulture and hospitality industries.
The farms are known as Lower Farm (LR No 427) which is about 210 ha and also houses the institute headquarters, Ol-Magogo Farm 1 (LR No 4358 & 3989/7) of about 1562 ha, Ol-Magogo Farm II (LR No 3989/1) which is 28 ha, Top Farm I (LR No. 5210) measuring 544 ha, Top Farm II (LR No 5211 which has 514 ha, Karati Farm (LR No 5212) which measures 405 ha and Quarantine Farm (LR 12248) which is 400 ha.
Lanyasunya says of these farms, only two; Lower Farm and Ol-Magogo Farm I which have a total acreage of about 1772 ha are fully under Kalro use which translates to about 48pc of the total pieces of land that was set aside for livestock quarantine and research about 111 years ago. 
“These pieces of land are in prime area and simple calculation will disclose the land is valued at more than Sh20 billion, notwithstanding the infrastructures therein. The figure could go up to more than Sh25 billion if you valued the cost of existing buildings and machinery,” he said.
The disputed parcels of land hold many public facilities developed over a period of more than 100 years. Closer look of the existing government records reveal that this institution was started between 9th and 15th August 1903 when Lord Delamere formally requested the colonial government for hiving of the said parcels of land exclusively for livestock quarantine and research. It was then called Government Agricultural Experimental Station which was changed to Kari after independence and recently to Kalro following the ongoing parastatal reform programme lead by former lawmaker Abdikadir Hassan who is now a presidential adviser.
From then and up to date, the farms have been used for livestock breeding and germplasm multiplication in cattle, sheep, goats, poultry and pigs, livestock disease control which includes development of veterinary interventions for combating livestock diseases, animal nutrition which includes wide range of rations and formulae for all classes of livestock, pasture breeding and other social-economic activities.
Lanyasunya says following the illegal allocations, Kalro and other government departments have been unable to exercise their mandate as required and further suffered massive lose which includes loss of superior government breeding stock and also valuable research data and information.
“As we speak now, the country has no quarantine farm, because the 400 ha that had been set aside was grabbed a few years ago. This piece of land (known as Quarantine Farm) serves as the only national quarantine station for breeding livestock. Efforts to recover it have proved difficult and costly. Support from relevant governments has not been forthcoming, perhaps because of the influential status of the people involved. This farm is one of the most prime parcels owing to the large lake frontage. Records at the ministry of Lands indicate that it has been sub-divided,” he said.
He said another piece of land was grabbed by a powerful individual in the Kanu government and later sold it to a foreigner who is currently undertaking horticulture and floriculture farming to the detriment of Kenyans since it was being used for research on Sahiwal cattle, sheep and goats.
The parcels know as Top Farm I and Top Farm II (LR 5210 and LR 5211) which belongs to the institute are presently being claimed by several senior government officials through a group of fraudsters calling themselves Isahakia self-help group.
In 2011, Kalro sued these fraudsters and an order was issued to them by High Court judges sitting in Nakuru, to either vacate the government land or be evicted. 
“These senior government officials, some of whom served under Kibaki administration and still serving in the Jubilee government have continued to harass government workers. Recently, they sent tractors to plough 50 acres of government land but they were repulsed by our guards,” Lanyasunya revealed.
The director disclosed that despite many court orders issued ordering the fraudsters to vacate the land, responsible local government arms (regular and administration police) have failed to take action. The institute is now contemplating of writing to the Inspector General of Police and cabinet secretary Joseph Lenku for intervention. Those obstructing the action within Nakuru county are very well known to the institute.
The same group is said to have tried in vain to lay claim to parcels of land belonging to Naivasha Maximum Security GK Prison and Naivasha KWS but were sent away by the armed officers based there.
“Prison and KWS land was saved because the officers are armed and were able to repulse them. In our case, we only have unarmed guards. In many occasions, the invaders are escorted by armed administration police thereby making it easy for them to access government property,” he said of the predicaments the institute has been undergoing.
“If this is not stopped, the country will suffer irreparable damage in terms of a loss of scientific hub aimed at enabling the country attain itself self-sufficiency in food and employment creation, in line with Vision 2030. It is very important to underscore the fact that, research is the pride of any country and without it, it cannot develop. Based on this premise, Kalro research is the backbone of Kenyan agriculture by extension the overall economy of our country,” he reiterated.
Lanyasunya wants the Jubilee government to implement 2011 report by Parliamentary Select Committee on Public Investment which recommended the revocation of title deeds under the hands of individuals for the parcels of land that belongs to Kalro in Naivasha.
The committee, then chaired by Igembe South  MP Mithika Linturi visited the area on May 30 2011 and recommended action be taken against those behind grabbing of the land saying research is vital for realisation of any meaningful development in the country.
The grabbing of the parcels has also put into jeopardy plans to implement a Sh2.5 billion World Bank project of setting up an ultra-modern research centre of excellence for East Africa in the area.