Ruto cancels subdivision of irrigation land for settlement


A man admires some of the fruits at an orchard at the Galana Kulalu model farm on November 16, 2022. 

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto yesterday revoked the planned subdivision of 245,029 acres at the Galana Kulalu irrigation project, angered by what was said to be a big residential plan that would take the scheme out of its core business of food production.

In the subdivision plan seen by the Nation, the project was to see 110,000 acres hived off to settle 10,000 families, with a further 4,032 acres set aside for residential use.

It is unclear how far the project had gone, but those in the know yesterday described an angry President Ruto who saw the subdivision as a wrong idea at a time the country was facing a serious cost of living crisis with increasing food prices, especially those of maize.

“For the President, the subdivision was confirmation that the project had taken a different turn from what was initially projected. So he went there and did not even wait to get to State House to tweet about the revocation. He did the tweet himself,” a State House official aware of the events of yesterday told the Nation.

370,000 acres

Initially, the tweet by the Head of State, some minutes after 4pm was pulled down, only to be brought back up some 20 minutes later, this time with more details on the intended course of action.

“After an extensive tour with national and county government leaders of Galana Kulalu National Food Security Project today, I direct as follows: that he planned subdivision into settlement parcels is revoked and cancelled,” the President said in his verified social media handles.

Dr Ruto was accompanied in the afternoon tour by governors Abdulswamad Nassir (Mombasa), Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Gideon Mung’aro (Kilifi), and Issa Timmay (Lamu), among other leaders.

The President also directed that 370,000 acres of the Galana Kulalu project be set aside, in the next six months, for food production, majorly maize.

Yesterday, the Nation learnt that besides the subdivision for residential purposes, the Galana Kulalu land was to see the hiving off of 2,220 acres for building  roads and an airstrip. A total of 295 acres were to be set aside for the putting up of a water reservoir, 25,187 acres of farmlands, as well as 52,722 acres to set up a Livestock Promotion Zone.

At the same time, 4,852 acres were to be set aside for horticulture farming, while 3,228 acres were planned for a commercial urban and market set up.

A total of 39,579 acres, a breakdown seen by the Nation shows, was to be set aside for a wildlife buffer zone, the creation of protected riparian lands, and those of river flood zones. For months, Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung’aro has been protesting at plans by people he claimed were land-grabbers whom he said were eyeing the Galana Kulalu and Malindi Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) lands.

The Galana-Kulalu Food project was the brainchild of former Naivasha MP John Mututho, who proposed it when he served as the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture.

1.2 million acres

A feasibility study located 1.2 million acres of arable land in Tana River and Kilifi counties, of which the government planned to use one million acres. It was established that a dam with water harvested from River Galana would be sufficient to irrigate 400,000 acres.

From the studies, it was proposed that a model farm be built on one per cent of the one million acres, translating to 10,000 acres. This project was given to Green Arava on September 11, 2015 at an initial cost of sh14.5 billion.

In May 2021, a parliamentary committee demanded that the Ministry of Lands reveals the identities of 10 people that Parliament was told had grabbed 301,350 acres valued at Sh15 billion belonging to ADC and the Galana project.

The committee was by then debating a public petition by Garsen residents regarding the subdivision of ADC land and stakeholder consultation on the Galana-Kulalu project.