MPs Approve Plan to Limit Land One Can Own in Kenya

  • Members of the 13th Parliament during President William Ruto's inaugural speech on September 29, 2022..jpg
    Members of the 13th Parliament during President William Ruto's inaugural speech on September 29, 2022.
    The National Assembly
  • Parliament approved a motion that seeks to grant the government power to limit the amount of land that a person can own in Kenya. 

    MPs endorsed the proposal, which urged the Ministry of Lands to create laws and regulations for private land usage and management, including minimum and maximum land holdings.

    Kwanza MP, Ferdinand Wanyonyi, tabled the motion, tasking the government to execute Article 60 (1) of the Constitution, which states that land in Kenya must be held, used, and maintained equitably and sustainably.

    "The House, therefore, resolves that the government enforces compliance of Article 68 (c) (i) of the Constitution, section 159 of the Land Act, 2012 and the National Land Policy through the publishing of the rules and regulations for private land use and management in regard to the minimum and maximum land holdings in Kenya," the motion stated.

    Kwanza MP Ferdinand Wanyonyi presenting a motion at the floor of the National Assembly on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.
    Kwanza MP Ferdinand Wanyonyi presents a motion on the floor of the National Assembly on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.
    The National Assembly

    Individuals owning under-utilised large tracts of land will be required to surrender the excess parcels to the government.

    The proposal on land use regulation was aimed at ensuring food security and reducing food import bills.

    Most legislators advocated for the law, expressing bewilderment at how individuals could own expansive land yet leave it lying idle while the country suffered from food insecurity.

    Lawmakers decried land fragmentation in agriculturally productive areas like Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Laikipia, Narok and Nakuru.

    "If we do not set land holding sizes, high potential agricultural areas will become slums," Tinderet MP Julius Melly lamented.

    Wanyonyi also cited that the growing population and high land demand have led to land fragmentation into low-yielding uneconomic units.

    MPs also pushed for taxation on idle land, alleging that people hold land stretching to 500,000 acres, equivalent to a county that is not in use.

    Protesters, however, argued that the decision to claim unused agricultural land was misinformed, citing that most communities living in Kenya were pastoral communities.

    Previously there were failed attempts to approve two separate Bills in 2015 that sought to cap private landholding following a hot debate that ensued thereafter from leaders and landowners in the country.

    An undated image of a plantation farm
    An undated image of a plantation farm in Kenya
    File