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Blog Archive


Monday, August 1, 2011

Why appropriate land use is the answer ….

In an earlier post I asked you to consider for a moment if we thought that converting prime agricultural land into housing was a wise thing to do. Now I would like you to ask yourself the same question, but before you answer let your mind reflect on the plight of 1,000’s of East Africans who are at this very moment fighting to survive the famine. Still nothing? Don’t worry, you are not alone, ditto the guys who own Tatu City & Migaa. Now, would we be up in arms lobbying government to stop the developers from happily replacing rich red soil with concrete mix if the Tatu land was under maize & wheat instead of coffee? Maybe not, but we should be! Some time ago I read an article that gave a number of reasons why Kenyan farmers should uproot their coffee bushes. The main difference I have with the writer of that article is that I am convinced that the uprooted coffee should be replaced with food crops like maize and beans, not housing. This is because a coffee plantation was already an inappropriate use for the land.

An exercise in futility

Land use, if approached rationally, should match the unique characteristics of the land and must consider factors like topography, climate etc. The impacts of these factors need to be weighed against each other and the most beneficial option adopted. In the case of certain recent real estate developments I get the sense that profit was the only factor that was considered i.e. it’s a no-brainer, if you have land in or near Nairobi you should put up apartments! In many ways we are no different from the guys who cleared swathes through the Mau Forest without so much as a thought about rainfall catchment areas. I’m no expert but reduced forest acreage and fewer coffee bushes means less moisture released into the atmosphere, which simplistically leads to less rainfall. More land under housing and non-food crops like coffee, means less land under food crops which means less food available. Yes, I know hindsight is 20/20, but it is futile to scramble around dealing with the effects of drought without bothering to do anything about the causes. 


  1. Very astute reasoning. What do you think is the ideal use for land along the syokimau-mlolongo-athi river corridor?

  2. The area you've described could have a number of uses all depending on soil(black cotton or not), proximity to Athi and Stony Athi rivers, nearness to main road, topography etc, but off the cuff I can picture large scale ranching, medium cost housing and tourism as being appropriate.


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