Foreign countries and banks are among the interested parties that submitted bids for leasing government lands as the call for submission of interests closes today.

Business Day Africa has established that China, Bangladesh, Egypt, and Jordan have expressed interest in leasing idle state lands for agricultural purposes.

Egypt and Jordan plan to use the lands for beef cattle farming, while Bangladesh intends to focus on rice production. Meanwhile, China has proposed plans for producing rice, beef, and pork on the available state lands.

“We have received numerous expressions of interest, including from foreign countries eager to participate in this initiative. However, the true scope of engagement will become apparent once the bidding process concludes,” an official from the Ministry of Agriculture disclosed,

The Ministry of Agriculture has collaborated with KenInvest, which is managing the leasing portal and providing investment guidance.

Additionally, the ministry has inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), paving the way for the multilateral lender to extend loan facilities to investors.

In June 2022, the Cabinet, under the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta, approved a policy facilitating large-scale commercialisation of public land designated for agricultural purposes.

The policy aims to establish a framework for utilising idle land owned by public institutions for extensive commercial agricultural activities.

Kenya envisages a model where significant portions of public land will be leased to private investors, fostering the production of food and cash crops that rely less on rain-fed agriculture and instead prioritise irrigation.

Notable parastatals holding vast yet unutilised land include Kenya Railways, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, East African Portland Cement, Kenya Prisons, and the University of Nairobi.

Currently, Kenya’s commercial agriculture sector primarily focuses on exports such as tea, coffee, fruits, vegetables, and flowers, which are crucial foreign exchange earners.

The country now aims to diversify into large-scale commercial production of staple food crops like maize, beans, and vegetables, primarily for local market.