To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

October 03, 2011

Canadian investor gains, then loses Kenyan community's support for jatropha project

The Nairobi Start reports that Tana River councillors have asked Kenya's National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) not to revoke a biofuel project licence in the area. Led by Tana River County Council chairman Salim Golo, they said they are happy with the project to be carried out on 160,000 hectares. The jatropha plant project is supposed to start on 10,000 hectares and later be scaled up to 50,000 hectares, with the remaining land integrating agriculture and wildlife.

Golo accused Nature Kenya, an NGO, of petitioning NEMA to revoke the license.

Nature Kenya, the operating name of the East Africa Natural History Society, expresses concern on its website about the environmental impacts of the proposed investment.   

''NEMA’s approval of the cultivation of 10,000 hectares of jatropha curcas at the Tana Delta will not only see the displacement of the local community, but the destruction of a unique ecosystem that holds 345 bird species include 22 water bird species present in internationally important numbers, '' it says.

The Nairobi Star quotes council chairman Golo as saying, "We have a lease agreement with Bedford Biofuel to plant jatropha in the area. What does Nature Kenya want? They have been in the Tana delta for many years and have never assisted us."

The lease agreement will last 45 years. The councillors said that the area chosen for the project is dry and currently facing bush clearing that would in the near future leave the land bare. Kenneth Pakia, a resident who accompanied the councillors, said the jatropha plant would provide cover and assist the ecosystem sustain the environment.

Golo said the arrival of Bedford Biofuel, a Canadian investor, had enabled the six ranches where the project will be carried out to pay Sh2.6 million in rates to the Tana River County Council. "How would that have happened without this initiative?" Golo asked.

The project will employ more than 14,000 locals Golo said, adding that it resonates well with devolved county governments. The councillors denied that there are any squatters on the land to be evicted. NEMA recently announced that it has suspended two top managers for issuing the licence to Bedford Biofuels, but the company has challenged NEMA chairman Francis ole Kaparo to explain how the process was irregular.

Nature Kenya argues that jatropha cannot thrive under the area's coastal conditions, and that therefore the mooted investment is a waste of land that should instead be used for food crop agriculture. It also says that an ecological land use plan should be put in place first. 


In making its first argument Nature Kenya is taking advantage of the fact that one of the most criticized aspects of biofuel crops is that they are not being planted on 'marginal land' suited for little else as often claimed, but are actually taking up prime land which should be used for growing food. 

A report in Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper of September 6 said NEMA had since withdrawn its support for the project on environmental grounds. The same report indicated that on learning of NEMA's position, Tana River County Council had also revised its initial support, accusing Bedford Biofuel of giving them a biased report which did not include NEMA's stance.

Council chairman Golo said, ''INitially we thought  it was an environmentally friendly project. Now that we have heard of NEMA's stand, as leaders we need to support the environmental agency. The proprietors only told us of their side of the story without telling us the technical report from NEMA.''

Elder Swaleh Racha accused the investors of causing dissension within the community. He said proper consultations had not been made, and that even those who supported the project were not fully aware of all its consequences.

African Agriculture

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by Ourblogtemplates.com

Back to TOP