By Abdi Hussein
Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has revoked the environment Impact Assessment (EIA) licence it issued to KiliAvo Fresh Ltd to farm vegetables including avocados within Amboseli Wildlife circuit in Kajiado South Subcounty.
NEMA Director General Mamo B. Mamo wrote to KiliAvo revoking its licence with immediate effect. NEMA had warned in September 2020 it intended to do this following concerns over KiliAvo’s Environmental Impact Assessment, prompting the firm to take legal action against NEMA and Big Life at the National Environment Tribunal (NET). That case was dismissed yesterday.
On Monday April 26th,the NET dismissed KiliAvo Fresh Ltd case after NET Chairman Mohammed Balala ruled, virtually, that KiliAvo had failed to provide reports and ready witnesses to help make its case.
In September 2020 NEMA had warned KiliAvo that it intended to cancel its licence after Amboseli Land Owners Conservancy Association ( ALOCA) and other key stakeholders raised questions on skewed environmental impact assesibilty arguing it would interfere with ecosystem in totality.
Stakeholders’ concerns included that the proposed farm was in a wildlife corridor; that it violated ALOCA’s land use plans and the Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan that zone this area for livestock and wildlife. They also claimed the developers failed to consult widely enough on their plans.
The company KiliAvo Fresh Ltd who had just planted 780 stems of grafted Avacado launched legal action at the National Environment Tribunal (NET) against NEMA and Big Life Limited, a conservation organisation working in the landscape, seeking to have that order from NEMA overturned.
Aloca Chairman Samuel Kaaki said the bold move will set a precedent over dozen farms within the wildlife corridors within Amboseli wildlife circuit.
“The tribunal ruling safegurds our heritage and our people livelihoods. We want NEMA to move in earnest and revoke the licence forthwith. The farm lies in elephants “martenity”-birthing place,” said Kaaki.
However the farm manager Mr Jeremiah Swaka said the farm might consider appealing the decision saying it wasn’t a prerogative of Nema to decide for them how to use their free hold title land.
” We have invested heavily in this farm and employed more than 400 people. We will continue farming without Nema licence. Our misery is ochestrated by few individuals for their personal interest,” said Mr Sakwa.
Mushrooming horticulture farming in the region remains a time bomb that may explode anytime considering majority young generation is rooting for farming against wildlife conservation.
Now Nema and conservators guns barrels are aiming other established farms along the corridor in what is perceived to be a looming messy battle.
KiliAvo Fresh Ltd’s 180-acre farm that boasts of 72 modern beehives is located between Amboseli National Park and a series of other protected areas including the Kimana Sanctuary, Tsavo West National Park, and Chyulu Hills National Park. It is surrounded by locally-owned conservancies where landowners earn a living from livestock and tourism.