Innovative land use policy critical to food security
Transformation of food systems to ensure all people at all times have access to sufficient nutritious food has become a major global agenda.
The concern that the world might lack the ability to feed an exponentially growing population has added impetus in searching solutions to food insecurity. To many, the solution lies in innovative application of land policies.
Land is a key determinant in social, economic and political development, its management and administration has shaped the development of many countries.
Given the finite nature of land resources, sustainable utilisation requires establishment of innovativpolicy framework.
Kenya, in her attempt to promote national development, ensure food security and eradicate poverty; has developed policy instruments to guide utilisation of land.
However, due to the social, economic and political nature of land, many of the policy instruments have failed to achieve the aspiration of national food self-sufficiency.
For instance, policies enunciated in Sessional Paper No.1 of 1965 on African Socialism and its application in Kenya, failed to achieve desired national economic development.
For instance, after independence, the new power elites had access to most settler farm lands; leaving many citizens without land hence continuous conflicts and underutilisation of land.
Conversely, the fortunes in the agriculture sector keep dwindling and food insecurity persists.
The food challenges are attributed to unsustainable agricultural practices and climate change.
To tackle the problem, Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2017 on National Land Use Policy premised on the principle of Food Security and Economic Development was initaited to deal with the issue of sustainable utilisation of land resources.
In the National Land Use Policy, sustainable food production is predicated on a holistic approach to land management and utilisation.
Thus, innovative ways of harmonising different land policies and institutions will be impactful.
To start with, there needs to be thorough civic education on matters of land use and management.
This is because public participation is identified in the Constitution as key in management of resources.
Civic education is important to raise the awareness of citizens in order for them to effectively get involved in sustainable management and utilisation of land.
It must be noted that given the cultural attachment, economic and political nature of land, land reform is sensitive and emotive.
Therefore, any meaningful progress in sustainable and productive use of land will require wide consultations and consensus.
Transparency and rule of law being key among the pillars underpinning the process.
With decentralisation of land policies and institutions, productivity of land will depend on the ability of institutions to seamlessly work collaboratively, aiming at improving production especially in the agriculture sector.
With land in Kenya categorised into different ecological zones, where a number of counties share similar climatic conditions; clustering counties into different economic zones with similar agricultural production potential must be encouraged.
Clustering strategy is important for it could allow consolidation of small farms.
Importantly, it could allow collaborative development of infrastructure among counties which has for long been missing the link. — The writer is an international food policy analyst