|Witu nyangoro ranch|
Written by: Ali Godana Dae, the Organising Secretary - Witu Nyangoro Ranch
Witu Nyangoro Ranch was registered under the Companies Act in the early 1970s. A group of elders came together to guard the interests of livestock farmers, who are the majority in Witu Division. The ranch has a total area of 32,000 ha and the sole purpose then was to keep livestock for beef and milk.
The ranch is run by directors elected by the shareholders and a ranch manager seconded to it by the Ministry of Livestock Development. In the early 1980s, the ranch served its purpose well with over 1,000 head of cattle, a four-wheel drive vehicle and an office with a ranch manager running it on a daily basis at its headquarters in Moa. The ranch used to supply beef to the Kenya Meat Commission’s Kibarani slaughterhouse in Mombasa.
An Agricultural Finance Corporation loan and members’ shares made this possible. Currently, the ranch has close to 200 shareholders. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, misfortune befell the ranch. Bandits stole hundreds of cattle and officials mismanaged the ranch, leading to its collapse. As a result, the ranch was dormant for 15 years.
In mid 2003, shareholders thought it wise to call for an annual general meeting (AGM) to elect new officials and task them with reviving the ranch to its former glory. The new officials came up with several suggestions to revive the ranch, including the possibility of partnering with investors to lease the land, exploiting wildlife cropping activities with individuals holding valid licences from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and registering new members to boost the shares. In 2004, the members harvested timber and sold it in the local market, raising some revenue which enabled the ranch to buy over 100 head of cattle.
Between 2005 to date, many investors – including Matt International, Greenpower, Bedford, Coast Development Authority and Better Globe Forestry (BGF) – have approached the ranch with proposals to lease the land for various activities. After careful consideration, the ranch officials signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with BGF in 2008, after which the two parties established a working party and decided on activities to be carried out.
Better Globe Forestry also took four directors of the Witu/Nyongoro ranch on a tour of BGF’s pilot project in Kiambere to see what their partners are doing. The ranch officials are in the process of putting their land ownership documents in order. BGF have shown their commitment to the partnership by advancing the ranch close to Ksh 400,000 for the payment of land rent and penalties accrued over the years. The difficult part remaining is to search for the survey plan/report which is not in the systems record both at the Ministry of Lands and the ranch records.
When the issue of survey plans is sorted out, the ranch documents will be completed and title deed issued to the ranch and finally a lease agreement will be entered into with Better Globe Forestry. Both parties are in constant touch with the relevant government departments, briefing them on the steps taken so far, the two parties will do everything at their disposal to take an all-inclusive approach.
With the expected implementation of proposed projects by Better Globe Forestry, the ranch shareholders expect to benefit substantially in terms of revenue generated from leasing the land. The benefits include creation of employment opportunities for communities around the ranch area and provision of bursaries for bright needy students, renovations of schools and dispensaries, initiating water projects, micro-finance and assisting youth and women groups