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Land tenure and reforms - Agriculture Form 3

Suggested Activities In Topic land Tenure And Land Reform

Activity 1:

Walk around the farms in your home area discuss with farmers the types of tenure systems they hold, the type of soil conservation measures they practice and long-term developments they do on the farms.

Activity 2:

Discuss with the elderly people how they solve land disputes. eg.Through calling a council of elders eg Njuri njeke in meru, Kaya in coast etc.

Activity 3:

Discuss, with your parents or an elderly person in your home area, on the following:
(i) The tenure system operational in area.
(ii)The procedure they followed to acquire the title deed for the farm.
(iii)The information entered on the title deed.

Activity 4:

Look at your atlas and locate various places where settlement schemes are established in Kenya.

(Reference: Kenya Literature Bureau. 2009, Secondary. Agriculture. Form 3,Page.152-156).

Background knowledge

In your form one course you leant that agricultural economics is the applied science that aims at maximizing output while minimizing cost. This is done by combining the limited supply of the factors of production to produce goods and services for use by the society for periods of time. The factors of production are:

  • land,
  • labor,
  • capital,
  • management.


Agricultural economics: A science that aims at maximizing output while minimizing costs by combining the limited supplies of land, capital, labor and management of goods and services for use by the society over a certain period of time.
Adjudication: Establishment of ownership, description and recording of land.
Concession: An agreement between the government and a foreign company on the use land.
Consolidation: putting together under one holding different scattered pieces of land owned by one individual.
Co-operative: An organized group of people with similar economic needs.
Fragmentation: A condition where an individual own numerous separate parcels of land scattered over a wide area.
Landlord: A person who owns a piece of land which he/she rents to another person at an agreed fee.
Reform: Any organized action designed to improve land ownership use.
Registration: The process of recording information of land ownership on an official register.
Resettlement: a process of transferring people from densely populated areas to sparsely populated areas.
Settlement: occupation of land which was not previously inhabited.
Tenure: The ownership of land or the right to use the land.
Title deed: A legal document that proof the ownership of land

Lesson objectives

By the end of the topic you should be able to define and describe land tenure systems and land reforms found in Kenya.

  • Define the term land tenure
  • Describe tenure systems
  • Describe land reforms

Land tenure and land reforms

Land is an important resource required in agricultural production. The systems of land ownership and rights to the use of land in Kenya vary significantly. In this topic we shall look at the different types of land ownership and uses, which is referred to as land tenure systems, and the organized actions aimed at improving land use. Various kinds of rights to the use of land give rise to different land tenure systems. Different land tenure systems offer varying degrees of security. Land reforms involve organized actions designed to improve land use, with the aim of improving agricultural production.

Land tenure systems

Land tenure is the possession of the legal rights to the ownership and use of land. Various kinds of rights to the use of land give rise to different tenure systems. For individual land tenure system, the concept of sole ownership gives the farmer motivation to work harder in farming, soil conservation and general land improvement. However, in communal land tenure system the land belongs to everybody and hence no individual has the responsibility of taking care of the land or developing it.-Tenure systems are methods by which someone has the rights to the use of land. There are two main forms of tenure systems, namely: 1) Individual land tenure system 2) Collective land tenure system

Types of individual land tenure system

In individual land tenure system, land is owned by individuals who either operates or leaves it to another person. The types of individual land tenure systems include:

  • Individual owner- operator
  • Landlordism and tenancy
  • Concession or company

Collective land tenure system

In collective land tenure system land is collectively owned by a group of people who usually have a common binding factor such as clanism and co-operation. This system is further divided into two types of land tenure systems namely: Communal land tenure system and co-operative land tenure system.

Ag3-0411001Photo-of a herd of Somali / Maasai cattle grazing in semi-arid area.

Communal land tenure system

Allows possession of land rights by the whole community or a section of the community. It is Common among the pastoral communities in Kenya. The individual members of the community have equal rights to the use of land. Everybody uses land in any way they wish but have to observe the rules of occupancy, as set by the community. The system allows individuals or group of people to move freely in search of pasture and water.

Co-operative land tenure system

In co-operative land tenure system land is owned by a group of people on co-operative basis. In Kenya, people were encouraged to form societies to buy large farms which were previously owned by the white settlers. Examples of co-operative ranches in Kenya include Lukenya and Koma Rock ranches in Machakos District. In co-operative land tenure system, a group of farmers pool their resources together to buy large tracts of land which they work on as a group and share the products at the end of a specified period.

Land reforms

Land reform is any organized action designed to improve land ownership and land use. Some of the objectives of land reforms are:- 1. To increase agricultural production through proper land use. 2. To orient agricultural production to meet market demand. 3. To settle the landless people. 4. To encourage soil conservation and land improvement measures. 5. To put idle land into productive agricultural use.

Types of land reforms

The types of land reforms include:-

  • land consolidation,
  • land adjudication and registration,
  • land fragmentation.
  • settlement and resettlement,

Land consolidation

Land consolidation is a process of bringing together small fragments of land under one holding, for better and efficient utilization. Land consolidation involves establishment of ownership, measurement and recording each fragment. Individual fragments are then consolidated into one holding, around the most developed fragment or the biggest parcel where this is practically possible.

Land fragmentation

Land fragmentation is where a farmer owns numerous separate parcels of land scattered over a wide area.Causes of land fragmentation are:
1) System of shifting cultivation 2) Population pressure 3) Inheritance 4) Purchase of pieces of land in different places

Land adjudication and registration

Land adjudication and registration is the establishment of ownership, measurement, description and recording of land, after which a title deed is issued to the land owner. Steps of adjudication and registration 1. Establishment of ownership 2. Measurement of the land 3. Description of the land 4. Recording of the land

Land settlement and resettlement

Land settlement is occupation of land which was previously uninhabited while resettlement is the process of transferring people from densely populated area to sparsely populated area.

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