Recover stolen Kari land

n the last 80 years, Kenya’s population has jumped from 2.9 million to 37 million. On realising the possible impact of such a high population growth rate on food production, in the 1970s, the Government set aside 240 acres of land for potato research.

Although demand for potatoes then was only low, the tuber soon became very popular with those who crave chips and crisps, mainly urban dwellers. As a result, today, demand for potatoes is rising rapidly, making it the second most important staple after maize.

Last week, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute’s centre responsible for potato research estimated the crop could soon surpass maize in importance — as early as 2010.

Unfortunately, the research body says it can neither meet the demand for clean planting materials, nor come up with innovations fast enough, for it no longer has enough space for seed multiplication.

Most of Kari’s land was grabbed in the 1990s by politically correct individuals. This land can, and should be, repossessed.

The second reason why Kari is unable to meet farmers’ demands is that it is using outdated technologies, which are slow and expensive.

The centre has already identified alternative technology and made its presentations to the parent ministry, but, seemingly, its application for funds is not being taken seriously.

While population levels and food demand continue to rise, land remains inelastic. But with creative technological applications, other smaller and more densely-populated countries have managed to attain food sufficiency.

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