The government is surveying and sub-dividing the 1.57 million acre Galana Kulalu Irrigation Project in anticipation of attracting investors to the area.
Lands principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri says the sub-division has put into consideration the interests of local communities such as pastoralists who will benefit from a 250,000 group ranch while the government will also set aside land for small scale irrigation.
Muraguri who was accompanied by his Irrigation and Sanitation counterpart Joseph Irungu in inspecting the survey land programme said survey works as well as sub-division of the land will be completed by June 2021.
“We are talking about the 250,000-acre corridor but we are engaging the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) and the Tsavo East National Park because we don’t want animals grazing on the model farm. We want to support the livelihoods of pastoralists by creating a group ranch where they will access the river Galana and the cultural sites,” he said.
He allayed fears by locals that the sub divided land will be allocated to outsiders saying tthe settlement aspect will favour the host communities.
“We have involved the Tana River leadership who have identified an area that we surveyed and we are working out the modalities to that ensure the area is clearly marked,” he said adding that the irrigation project will also help pastoralists venture into agri-business.
Irrigation and Sanitation PS Joseph Irungu confirmed that the 10,000 acre model farm will be complete in June 2021 setting the stage for private investors to take over the project but added that the government was yet to receive any bids or application for space in the project.
The Galana conservancy will also not be affected or relocated but according to Irungu, wild animals were being relocated by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) from the farm to the conservancy and the Tsavo East national park.
“The national park is under government management and the farm is under ADC and animals do not observe boundaries. KWS is relocating animals in preparation for the settlement we have talked about. We are not relocating the conservancy at all because it is not under the 1.57 million acres of land of the project,” he said.
More than 40,000 families and pastoralists are set to be settled in the project once the survey and subdivision work are complete mid next year.
Last week, residents of Garsen Sub County through their MP Ali Wario petitioned parliament to investigate irregular activities at the site after they claimed that government land surveyors had invaded the 1.7 million acre farm that spreads across Tana River and Kilifi Counties with an aim of sub dividing it.