A Study of problems facing a recently settled agricultural community: A Case study of Njoro Location.
Mwangi, Timothy Waiya
MetadataShow full item record
Rural development has and still is a major emphasis of the Kenya Government since attainment of independence. Agricultural development is one way in which the state has attempted to improve the livelihood of Kenyans. This is because the majority of our nationals reside in rural areas (Sessional Paper No.1, 1986)0 This trait is expected to continue into the the next century. Towards the end of the colonial period, due to prevailing population pressure and low incomes in the so called native areas where the indigenous people resided, the then colonial government decided to alleviate the problem by opening up the former white highlands for African settlement. Hence, since 1960 people have moved from native areas into the former scheduled areas to acquire land, settle cultivate and raise their standards of living. Settlement schemes were started by the state as institutions through which people would be settled in the former scheduled areas. From mid 1960s land buying companies were started by the wananchi with very little involvement by the central government The government encouraged wananchi to form these institutions because it could not settle everybody who wished to through state sponsored settlement schemes, This study attempts to point out some of the problems facing the settled community taking a case study of Njoro location where the above three categories of settling people are represented. The study found out that whereas the government had full control of the settlement schemes, its control in the land buying companies and co-operatives was minimal. The result is that settlement schemes are well planned and provided with infrastructural facilities while the situation in the land buying company and cooperative society farms is pathetic. In some cases in the latter case, the number of shareholders exceeded the land acreage, Hence, little or no land was set aside for communal facilities, If there had been a greater control by the state during the early stages of planning such problems would have been avoided, There is a tendency in all land buying companies and co-operatives of selling off all farm machinery and other assets when land is being sub-divided, This has created more problems for the farmers in farm preparation, Land preparation is being done late and this affects yields tremendously. The study found out that there is a change in the provision of infrastructural facilities after the farms are sub-divided. Most of the facilities existing before sub-division are either - not there or are in disuse. In the government sponsored Settlement schemes (hereafter referred to as schemes) no provision was given for ensuring that farmers would be assured of obtaining machinery on time. There was an over-emphasis_ on community facilities and yet the settled community would be agricultural in practice. Land tenure is stable in the schemes but not in most of the company and co-operative farms. In Company and Co-operative farms some shareholders are not yet sure whether the land they are settled on is theirs or not. Such uncertainity has resulted in people~s unwillingness to invest seriously in farming. In some land buying companies and co-operatives the state has withdrawn extension services as farmers are not responsive because they are pre-occupied with solving land disputes. In this respect therefore the settlement schemes have an advantage over them. They receive the best extension services because of stability of tenure there. Other problems facing the community include shortage of fuelwood, shortage of farm inputs especially fertilizers, and seed, long distances to water points which affect milk yields and inefficient A.I services. The study therefore concludes that there is need for a comprehensive approach in planning for settlement. Even where people through their own initiative create institutions for settlement there is need for the state to have control especially in the initial stages of planning. The study proposes that co-operatives for managing machinery be created to ensure adequate supply of the same after sub-division, co-operatives be encouraged to own some assets even after sub-division. In this respect, dividends should not be the aim of such investments instead they could be mortgaged and the funds so obtained be used to provide services to shareholders e.g. water cattle dips, etc. Agricultural Extension officers should have their travel claims settled quickly otherwise they may loose morale for working. Today claims take too long to be settled and some are not settled at all. Wherever possible a few farmers can be licensed by the Ministry of Livestock Development to rear bulls to supplement -A.l.services. Co-operative societies in collaboration with the Department of Agro-forestry at Egerton College and Forest Stations in the Division can supply seedlings to the farmers. The societies can make arrangements to collect seedlings and sell to the people, In this way the farmers will be ascertained of wood-fuel in future. If the constraints facing the said community are solved people could now start developing the area which is now a home to most of them who have no land in the former so called native areas where they come from.