Laikipia ranchers have criticised reports appearing in a British newspaper where Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga was quoted as saying he would shut down the ranches.
Though Mr Odinga has termed the report in the Times of London as inaccurate, the ranchers have asked politicians to work towards promoting harmony and co-existence between pastoralists and farm owners.
The report in TheTimes had claimed that the Nasa flagbearer had pledged “to dismantle the white-owned ranches to control violence since the owners do not even live here but in Europe”.
But the land owners have said they deserve support and not condemnation due to their role in the economic development of Laikipia County and the country by paying taxes.
RULE OF LAW
“For Laikipia’s success to continue, local people need peace and the rule of law. The region has suffered months of invasions by pastoralists from other counties. The incursions have caused the deaths of many local people and inflicted economic losses now running into billions (of shillings),” read part of statement issued by Laikipia Farmers Association, the official communication forum for the ranchers.
The statement signed by Ms Elodie Sampere said ranchers are the biggest employers in the county with 4,446 workers in the farms who take home Sh1.14billion annually in salaries.
It added that last year alone, some Sh560 million was paid to the Kenya Revenue Authority and to the county government.
The statement further sought to clarify perception that the expansive farms, some measuring up to 100,000 acres are owned by Europeans who live abroad.
“All the ranches are owned by Kenyan citizens, whatever their racial origins, or by Kenyan companies or Kenyan trusts. These are people who have constitutional rights to protection of their property and their lives,” read part of the statement.
The ranchers said they have been assisting the neighbouring pastoralists in times of drought by offering pasture to their livestock besides finding markets for the animals.
They also claimed that recent wave of invasions were carried by herders from outside Laikipia County after being incited by politicians.