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Communities, Ranch owners asked to live peacefully

The government has called for mutual understanding and tolerance between ranch owners and pastoralists during the ongoing dry season that is ravaging different parts of the country.

Addressing the media during the 24th International Grassland congress held in Bamburi Beach, Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Livestock and Fisheries Lawrence Omuhaka said that ranches are owned legally by individuals some of whom are Kenyans and foreign nationals, who pay taxes and contribute towards Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which is important to the country.

A section of the participants follow the virtual proceedings of the joint 24th International Grassland Congress and 11th International Rangeland Congress at the Bamburi Beach hotel, Mombasa. Photo by Andrew Hinga

“The government is an enabler for doing business, if you have a big ranch and our people are employed there, as long as you are working under the constitutional requirements the government comes in strongly to ensure private property is not interfered with,” said Omuhaka.

The CAS called for peaceful coexistence between the pastoralists and ranch owners, adding that some of the owners of the ranches although white in color are Kenyans.

“We need more investors coming so that we can create more jobs and investments for our people and also increase the GDP and per capita income,” he added.

At the same time, Omuhaka also asked pastoralists living near wildlife grassland areas to coexist peacefully as they did in the past years since the government needs both of them in the building of the economy.

“Over 80 per cent of our land falls under ranch land and grass land, it supports 70 per cent of our livestock and 83 per cent of our wildlife and about 10 million people live in these areas. We urge farmers and pastoralists to peacefully coexist with wildlife,” said Omuhaka.

He said the government has come up on time to support and compensate pastoralists whose animals have been attacked by wild animals.

President of the Grassland Congress Professor Smith Ray said that livestock and wildlife are both very important to the people and the economy urging Kenyans to sustain these resources.

The CAS echoed the sentiments of Ray saying that the government will implement measures from the conference that will make the grasslands and ranch lands areas sustainable and be able to support the people.

“We are happy to host this conference which is happening virtually with 80 countries participating. The theme “sustainable use of grassland and ranchland resources for improved livelihoods” is in line with Vision 2030 and the Big Four agenda, the main being food security and nutrition. As a government we appreciate and shall adopt whatever is discussed and implement it directly,” said Omuhaka.

He noted that climate change is a global phenomenon thus the congress gives attention to climate change issues and has a sub-theme on drought and climate change.

“Kenya is committed to ending drought emergencies thus setting aside funds that can be mobilized quickly whenever there are drought emergencies. As a country we are coming in with measures to ensure that we are able to sustain the economy,” he said.

He added that Sh2 billion has been disbursed in cushioning those affected by drought.

“The government has piloted and is now together with the private sector implementing index-based livestock insurance schemes to protect pastoralist’s livestock. We have recently insured farmers living in dry areas, we don’t wait for livestock to die but we give them funds to buy animal feed,” added Omuhaka.

He said, other efforts the government has put in place to curb drought is through the Ministry where it developed the National Drought Management Strategy which aims to build the resilience of the communities living in the rangelands of Kenya.

By Chari Suche

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