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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 23 November 2014

MAASAI NOW THREATEN TO OCCUPY KALRO LAND, GRAZE CATTLE

Tension is brewing in Naivasha area after word went round that a section of Maasai community plan to invade parts of the controversial Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation land.
It is now emerging that the community owns more than 10,000 acres of the land which allegedly belonged to their ancestors and have since served government agencies with documents to advance their claim. The land ownership row is before the High Court but members of Isahakia community have now said they will invade the land and reposes it despite the pending court case.
According to some of the Maasai elders, the land was acquired in 1904 through an agreement between their  grandfathers and the British government.
“Your Excellency, we are a non-governmental organisation with its headquarters in Nyeri town, Nyeri county and with mandate from the NGO Coordination Board, we also operate in four other counties; Laikipia, Kiambu, Nakuru and Kirinyaga,” the NGO, Cedev, has written an open letter the president asking him to take action over the controversial Kalro land. According to Cedev, nearly 5,000 acres of Kalroland in Naivasha subcounty in Nakuru county are currently in the hands of individuals and a section of community which is laying claim of ownership despite the fact that for nearly a century, it has been used as a research institute.
Kalro which was previously known as Kenya Agricultural Research institute has been utilising the land under its subsidiary, the Dairy Research Institute. It is worth noting that 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.
Kalro has seven pieces of land measuring about 4,000 hectares (about 10,000 acres) but out 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 our nation building to alleviate poverty.
All the parcels of land are situated less than five kilometres from Naivasha town with some being adjacent to Lake Naivasha, which make them attractive to investors interested in floriculture, horticulture and the 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 (LR No 4358 & 3989/7) of about 1562 ha, Ol-Magogo Farm (LR No 3989/1) which is 28 ha, Top Farm (LR No 5210) measuring 544 ha, Top Farm (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.
Investigations reveal that of these farms, only two; Lower Farm (LR No 427) and Ol-Magogo Farm (LR No 4358 and 3989/7) which have a total acreage of about 1,772 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. The disputed parcels of land hold public facilities developed over a period of more than a century.
History shows that the institution was started between August 9-15 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 later changed to Kari after independence and recently changeed to Kalro following the ongoing parastatal reform programme under Abdikadir Hassan.
From then and up to date, the farms have been used for livestock breeding and germplasm multiplication in cattle, sheep, goats, and poultry and pigs rearing, livestock disease control that include development of veterinary interventions for combating livestock diseases, animal nutrition which involve a wide range of rations and formulae for all classes of livestock, pasture breeding and other social-economic activities.
Following the illegal allocations, Kalro and other government departments have been unable to exercise their mandate as required and further suffered massive loss which include loss of superior government breeding stock and also valuable research data and information.
The parcels known as Top Farm (LR 5210) and Top Farm (LR 5211) which belong to the institute are presently being claimed by several senior government officials through a group of fraudsters calling themselves Isahakia Self-Help Group.
We have established that 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. 
However, these senior government officials, some  who served in Mwai Kibaki administration and still serving in Jubilee government have continued to harass government workers. We are told that recently, they sent tractors to plough part of the land but they were repulsed by guards.
The grabbing of the parcels of land 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 the East African region.
Kenyans now wonder why the security personnel in Nakuru have been unable to act on four court orders issued by the High Court directing that the intruders be ejected from the government farms.
It is worth noting the fact that on May 30 2011, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Public Investment chaired Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi visited the area and recommended that action be taken against those behind grabbing of the land saying research is vital for realisation of any meaningful development in the country.