From: Judy Miriga
This does not make sense …… Dominion Farm was fronted through political corrupt special interests and it should therefore renegotiate to incorporate realistic Local community concerns and interests……The deal here was not by any standards fair…..
Confederation Council Foundation for Africa Inc.,
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Siaya Women Chart Way Forward
Women from Siaya District have pledged to form working committees at various levels with a view of ensuring that women participation in peace and development is enhanced.
This was agreed at a meeting dubbed, “Women in Development” which was held at Ugunja Home Ground Resort. The meeting also noted that there is a need to develop and implement women empowerment programmes at various levels with a view of capacity building them.
The meeting comes just when the situation begins to stabilize following the post election violence which rocked the country. During the meeting, it was noted that women felt the brunt of the violence though their participation was minimal.
The meeting resolved that “women should not play a second place, but should in future take early precautionary measures for such calamities by taking the leadership.
Dominion Farms should leave YALA swamp or renogotiate
April 1, 2008 by toiyoi
According to the standard,
“The Dominion Group of Companies has threatened to close a rice farming investment in Siaya District and move to a neighbouring country.
Mr Calvin Burges, the president of the US company, said he was fed up by intimidation and extortion by politicians and residents.”
Good riddance. I think he should leave. Or renegotiate. Why?
(i) There is no worthwhile economic benefit to the people of Bondo/Siaya at all
-these people are not shareholders of Dominion, so Dominion’ s success is not their success
-Dominion’s products are for export (rice and the fish )
-purchasing of the oranges, rice and fish from the Farm is not subsidized to them (as expected)
(ii) The environment will no doubt be affected by the chemicals and pesticides Dominion uses in the farm
-who will clean up after Dominion? Dominion never cleans up, even in America ( Operating as Cimarron Pork Inc, they left a pig mess in OK, USA. In USA, Calvin Burgess builds Prisons, not rice Farms )
-the resulting adverse health on the “already poor and unhealthy people” will be multiplied
(iii) There is no technology/knowledge transfer
-as with most projects of these types in Africa, there is no useful technology and knowledge transfer to the people/kenya
-once Burgess leaves, if at all, the Bondo people won’t be able to recreate Dominion
(iv) Once Dominion’s Fish Farm succeeds, what happens to the local fishermen?
-They will be employed as factory hands in the Dominion Fish plant
-Dominion’ Fish will be cheaper than theirs (being mechanically harvested, etc), so they lose out
The people of Bondo/Siaya ( and their counterparts in Kwale ) should really favor a deal that makes them co-owners. All they need is a mere 25% of the Farm. After all, the inputs,local resource, is theirs. It is true that the technology and know-how is is Dominion’s. But what worth is that technology without the raw materials? I do not think the $$$$ people were being paid to relocate and give up control of their resources was sufficient compensation.
For those who would argue for Dominion, give me reasons why the investment is good for Siaya and Bondo residents.
30th November 2006
DOMINION FARM REVIVE MASSIVE COTTON
PRODUCTION IN YALA SWAMP AND NYANZA
By Leo Odera Omolo
The Dominion Farm Limited, the American owned firm which is currently involved in multibillion shillings rice project at the reclaimed wetlands in Yala Swamp in Siaya is to embark on massive cotton production.
DFL has set aside a total of 150 acres of the reclaimed land for planting cotton. It has considered the lack of sufficient qualities of cotton in the country that may be used in the manufacturing of textile products to feed into AGOA market.
This idea came when the various cotton Ginneries in Kenya have closed down and those still ginning are paying low rates for the raw materials obtained from cotton farmers.
The firm has noted that quality seed are not readily available to the farmers in large quantities and this has a major drawback for Kenya ‘s cotton industry where potential for cotton production in very high.
The DFL has been encouraged to go into cotton seed production, and is currently assisting or working in partnership with the nearby Ndere Cotton Ginnery to upgrade and improve its ginning capacity in order to increase cotton lint production
The previously run-down Ndere Cotton Ginnery is owned by the Siaya District Co-operative Union, but the cotton growers were at a certain point severely discouraged from growing the highly valued crop and abandons it due to delayed or non-payment by the various primary farmers co-operative societies charged with the buying cotton from local farmers.
This trend has now changed drastically since the DFL entered into cotton farming and ginning .The River Yala based firm is purchasing cotton from the farmers on cash payment. It has extended its collections to a far field like Uyoma and Sakwa,Asembo and Yimbo locations in Bondo district and also in both Karemo and Boro Divisions in Siaya district. It has employed additional support staff and workers at the Ndere Ginnery .A kilo of cotton is now fetching 20/- payable in cash money unlike the previous years when payments for cotton delivered by the farmers used to take as long as two years before the payment is effected.
This new trend is expected to encourage larger acreage if high quality cotton in the region and probably further a filed within Nyanza and Western provinces.DFL will then find a market for the cotton lint.
Lake Basin region has a high potential of cotton production .Kenya produced a lot of cotton in the 1950s,1960s,1970s, and 1980s when the cotton industry collapsed .However ,cotton remains an important cash crop in the country and particularly a crop that can boost rural income and alleviate poverty.
Nyanza and Western Provinces are well known for their past record of cotton production particularly in the districts of Busia, Bondo, Siaya, Nyando, Rachuonyo and in the greater region of Southern Nyanza .Despite this fact, Kenya has remained a net importer of cotton from the neighboring countries of Tanzania and Uganda for now close to a decade due to laxity on the parts of people in the higher authorities and policy makers.
The US government has offered a good opportunity for Kenya ‘s textile industry to export cotton textile into the US and yet cotton production in the country is very low.
The objective of the Dominion Farm Limited, a farm in which an American investor Mr. Calvin Burgess has invested close to Kshs 2 billion include development of profitable business and state of the art farm for the African region, poverty reduction through provision of employment and establishment of backward and forward linkages to economic development: increase of crop production for domestic consumption thereby improving food security. Provision of sustainable livelihoods for rural households and provisions of various socio-economic infrastructures in the region.
Other objectives include provision of a locally sustainable supply of cereal grains for consumption by the nation towards self-sufficiency: providing technology transfer to local agriculture and business practices and external capital investment for the government in the rehabilitation and utilization of the high potential Yala Swamp .
DFL is also involved in large scale bee-keeping and the production of top class honey, which is now being sold cheaply to the local community. The honey is laced with anti malarial Artemisia plant and sunflower oil for the protection of the consumers against malaria.
The region is prone to malaria epidemics and when this writer visited the DFL the country director Mr.Grahame Vetch had just completed the distribution of mosquito nets to the local community .A total of 8490 mosquito nets were issued freely to families living within the Yala Swamp and its environs.
About 267 mosquito nets were distributed to families living in Aduwa villages on the Yimbo side of River Yala in Usigu division Bondo district .Another 2670 nets were issued to families living in Bar Olengo villages, 2200 to villagers in Ratuoro and 950 to the Villages in Obambo area. This is part of the DFL good gestures for good community public relations exercise.
DFL has established 160 beehives at Sigulu Hills for the production of honey for which Yala Swamp and its environs have high potential .Already over 150 of these beehives are colonized. A honey processing plant has been established and the firm.
About 470 beehives have been prepared and ready for distribution to the out-growers at an affordable price of Kshs 4,000/-each and it is expected that within the next three years the production of honey at the firm will be the highest in the country.
leooderaomolo@ . . .
The writer is LUOCOME REPORTER based in Kisumu. We urge all LUOCOME members with pressing issues pertaining to media and press releases to kindly contact him from any where in world. He will assist you to get true picture of your Village Developement.
What do you say on this?
It is interesting that Dominion Foods Ltd, has given notice to quit. This is to whoever signed lease with them their terms of acquring Yala Swamp.
It is equally shocking that this company was awarded 3,700 hectares of wetland around the tributary of River Yala at a price of Kshs.1,254,782=( one million, two hundred and fifty four, seven hunred and eighty two only) per annum for 25 (twenty five year) with effect from 25-5-2004.
The agreement was signed between County councils of Siaya and Bondo on one part and Dominion Farms Ltd. on the other.
They got the land at a price of Kshs.339/15 per hectare per year or Kshs.137= per acre per year for 25 years.
This is the chapest cost of land in Kenya. Even deserts do not go for all that low.
In a country where land is very valuabe and we kill one another daily for it, why would we give our land freely to foreigners?
This land was given out at a price of USD 2 per acre! fper year or twenty five years a whole generation. This is ridiculous. They must pack up at ealiest and go.Why threaten us on our land?
There are many pepole from that area who have been displaced by internal conflict and this the time to settle them on such prime land.
Presently there is no tangible benefit from this company to the locals. There is no job creation, no infrastucture improvement nor any techniocal capacity transfer.
One wonders who negotiated such prices and for whose benefit.
This is the time for us to be sensitive to our poor by settling them on this land. We fore fathers died for independence to get our land not to give it to foreigners.
Ministry of lands and settlement should investigate such anomalies with a view to settle the internally displaced people from that area on this 3,700 hectares of land.
Felix Owaga Okatch
Dominion Domination: The Scandal of Yala Swamp
By Patrick Ochieng,
Director Ujamaa Center and Chris Owalla, Nyanza Social Forum.
“MPs want ActionAid to keep off”, screams the caption of a story in the East African Standard of January 3, 2006. The story is attributed to MPs Oburu Odinga and Ayiecho Olweny who claim that the NGO is inciting residents of trouble ridden Yala Swamp rice scheme in which American investor Dominion Group of Companies has been embroiled in a tussle with the community over issues of land dispossession.
The MPs vow that they will resist at all costs this bid “to frustrate economic projects in the Nyanza region” “we need organizations that bring solution to our problems and not those bent on killing our initiatives”, they continue. From this report it is now clear that this project is an initiative of Odunga Mamba, a businessman and the two MPs because they claim in the article that the government was the first to thwart the project and that they the three were ready to carry their own cross by inviting investors to turn around the economy of Nyanza. The community they claim had began to enjoy the benefits of the project.
Nyanza has always been a big issue, definitely bigger than all the three leaders and indeed all the politicians and Luo elite who have been championing the cause of this American investment. On this issue of Dominion someone needs to speak up. The truth is being smothered with such abandon and it is this that invites more questions rather than answers.
Following numerous press reports highlighting tensions between the farm and the community and a visit to the farms with a visiting group from Central America in November last year we thought we would be failing in our duty as a social activist and future leaders from the area if we did not take our time to understand the issues surrounding this mega project. So we visited the company and spent a whole day with the country Director and other staff to understand fully the operations of this project. We further spent two days with the communities of Yimbo and Alego to hear their side of the story. We were not able to speak to communities of Busia who also happen to share this ecosystem. After these encounters we posit that we must look at this Dominion coin inside out and back to front.
First Yala swamp is not a luo resource; this is a shared resource of a regional lake and is therefore a wetland that belongs to East Africa. It too is a buffer zone between land use and the lake. It is here too that the lost species of Lake Victoria are found regionally. Yala swamp covers approximately 17,500 ha. that has always been earmarked for reclamation ever since Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners made the first proposal in their study, Kenya Nile Basin Water Resources in 1954-6. Three phases of reclamation and development were identified the first of which was completed after 2,300 ha. had been reclaimed. The second phase was started but work stopped in 1970 due to lack of funds after 7km diversion canal of the Yala River had been constructed, the Lake Kanyaboli retention dyke and a feeder canal had also been put up.
The proposed projects are bound to release different effluence and pollution to the environment. Broadly this is envisioned to be in the form of fertilizers, pesticides, invasive species, and effluent from fish factories (processing and meals), noise and pungent smell, waste discharge from machineries. This major component has not been adequately addressed.
Shrines and cultural issues
Part of the swamp has sites which have been traditionally used for spiritual purposes. This is an area that has not been taken into consideration
Dominion farms Ltd has promised to put and/or upgrade health facilities within the two Districts. However, the EIA undertaken by Dominion farms does not address the emergent health issues associated with population growth. The Report is also silent on water borne diseases associated with rice growing and creation of water reservoirs e.g. malaria, typhoid etc This further affects learning, food security and general development of the community. This comes highly with high drop-out, low transition and completion rates in the region; hence achievement of both EFA and Millennium development goals might not be realized.
Even as the Lake Basin development Authority (LBDA) went on to start the reclamation ecologists and zoologists argued that reclaiming the swamp would precipitate unpredictable ecological hazards. Reclamation ecologists predicted would affect the three lakes Kanyaboli, Sare and Nambeyo negatively. Papyrus the swamp’s most dominant plant would disappear, the fate of sitatunga a buck and a bird called gonolek would be unknown. The filtering effect of the swamp of pollutants from Yala River before water is discharged to the lake would be lost and the breeding and nursery grounds for fish and birds would have to go. The fish species mbiru, fulu, kamongo, okoko, nyamami, ningu, fwani, adel and ngege found in these three lakes would all disappear. The people of Siaya, Bondo and Busia who depend on the swamp would be adversely affected. These were the postulations of ecologists’ way back in 1960s to 80s, claims which led the late Hon. Peter Okondo then MP for Busia South (Bunyala) one of the most vociferous proponents of reclamation to argue that “as an economic unit, the swamp is useless; it is a danger to the economy and it takes away land. It is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, vermin and snails. The swamp should be drained to improve the ecology of the area”.
Were Okondo to wake up from his grave he would be shocked that Busia County Council has been excluded from the reclamation project handed over to Dominion since 2003. According to Bondo MP Oburu Odinga Dominion had revolutionized agriculture in the area with new farming techniques, thus improving yields from 5 to 35 bags of maize per acre with 10 bags from each acre being offered to locals. The MP further accuses ActionAid of inciting locals over ‘petty environmental concerns’. NEMA it is reported approved the company’s first environmental impact assessment and is evaluating a second one.
ActionAid is asked to table its successes in Nyanza and compare notes with Plan, Care or Sana who have completed major projects in the region.
What are these petty environmental concerns? Dominion’s EIA to be exact is a scandal. Dominion’s initial license issued in 2004 permitted the company to grow rice on 3,700 ha. leased from Siaya and Bondo County Councils. All of Dominion’s 9 projects are lumped together in the EIA submitted to NEMA each of which falls in the second schedule of the EMCA [58 (i) (4)] as projects for which an independent EIA must be undertaken. The projects therefore lack the kind of detail required before implementation. For example Dominion proposes to construct a fish processing plant, a rice mill, a feed mill, a cotton ginnery, a fuel storage and dispensing station, a dam, barrier dyke, weir and irrigation, a hydro-electric generation plant and agriculture projects for rice, maize, cotton, soya beans, sunflower, artemisia, onion etc.
All these projects need a full and independent EIA. As things stand now the company has gone full throttle to implement most of these proposals without due process. The rice for which license was issued has not even been commenced. There is no socio-economic analysis of these activities. It is in fact disturbing that the professionals who conducted the EIA were employees of LBDA who are closely linked to Dominion. The Environment Management Plan is even more scandalous. It just lists what it calls negative and positive impacts without detailing the strategies for mitigating such impacts.
One expects MPs like Oburu to explain why the company is carrying out activities on swampland beyond the leased area of 3,700 ha. How was the new land acquired? Why is Dominion implementing proposed projects without NEMA license? The EIA does not discuss the compulsory eviction and resettlement arrangements for communities that are being forced to vacate their lands for Ksh. 45, 000 per acre. The EIA report does not discuss the perimeter fence that has been put up by Dominion denying locals easy access to pasture and water. The EIA report does not capture the felling of trees for charcoal and timber by Dominion and how this might be mitigated. The land lease negotiations excluded the communities of Bondo and Siaya; this should have been highlighted in the EIA. The EIA does not capture the fact that local communities are now not allowed to farm lest they contaminate crops grown by Dominion. They now depend on crops donated by Dominion making them more food insecure.
How much area will each crop cover? How much chemicals will be used? How will Dominion deal with the high water demand for their activities? What machines will Dominion use and what will be their impact on the environment and jobs? What pests will the new crops introduce to the area? Why is Dominion retailing crops such as cabbages and onions in the local market at the expense of local vendors? Cotton will require the use of agro-chemicals. These will contaminate Yala River and Lake Victoria through run-off thereby affecting the fish export industry to the EU Market, what is the future of east African fishermen?. Is this not an issue for the EIA? Has the fisheries department permitted dominion to put cages in Lake Kanyaboli? How will the waste generated from the cages be dealt with? The quantity of water to be extracted has not been surveyed and quantified. There are many other issues around fish cages, the rice mill and the ginnery that I leave for another discussion.
On a more important note both Dominion and their EIA ignored Busia. Several fish processing plants in Kisumu are operating at less than half their capacity due to low fish supply. Why should Dominion build another one in Yala swamp? Bondo fishmeal plant less than 50 km away is having problems getting raw materials. What would be the economic viability of building another one at the swamp? LBDA’s rice milling plant in Kibos is grossly underutilized, what is the need of a new one? Ndere cotton ginnery exists; why not use it instead of building a new one?
According to the Country Director Grahame Vetch, his personal assistant Joyce Awino Opondo and the environment officer a Mr.Enos Were, Dominion will contribute massive proteins to the community; employment and a five fold salary multiplier effect for each employee. Poverty will be alleviated for at least 20% in the area and it was gratifying to the company that the market from Siaya had moved to the company’s gates. The company has 240 employees and 1000 casuals on piece rates. Beekeeping and handmade paper were other ventures the company was engaging in.
Without prejudice to part (xxii) of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Company and Siaya and Bondo County Councils on the 20th of May 2003 which provides: “this document and all related documents shall be confidential as between the parties hereto so far permitted by the laws of the Republic of Kenya and shall not be released to any other person without the first express written consent of others”, what is Ksh. 1,254,782 per annum for year 1-3 shared on an 86%: 14% basis between Siaya and Bondo Councils respectively for the gazetted area and a further Shs. 1,085,218 for the additional area for the same years on the same portion?
Can this deal with the poverty in Nyanza? And what will happen after the 45 years of this Dominion domination? Even when the Director confirms that they have put together a paper to the Ministry of Health asking them to sanction the use of diluted DDT a banned chemical worldwide to eradicate malaria should we not be worried? When pedestrians from Kadenge to Yimbo cannot use the walkway beyond 6.30pm what is that but slavery? This project stinks. The state in Kenya must stop seeing natural resources only as instruments towards the agenda of industrial growth and economic development or sources of revenue. The Yala Swamp project is an undeclared emergency for which we must all rise if we care.
Over 300 homesteads in Siaya and Bondo districts with a human population of more than 4,500 will be displaced by the dam/water reservoir that is being constructed by the Dominion Farms Limited. Many more people will be affected because river Yala and Lake Kanyaboli is their source of water and livelihood. The manner in which this exercise is being carried out violates tenets of basic human rights because affected people are not being consulted. Instead, they are being forced into selling their ancestral land at a throw-away price. Of the more than 300 homesteads 200 homesteads in Siaya have refused to sign the contract while the more than 40 individuals of the 95 homesteads in Bondo district have done so under pressure
However, we are also concern with forceful eviction of communities from there ancestral land by Dominion Farms Limited and the use of police to have members who have resisted the eviction charged in the court of law, its saddening that police have even prefers charges ranging from incitement to violence to robbery with violence, and so far police in Usenge is in the process of releasing 48 warrants of arrest to members of the community in Yimbo Bondo District in addition to already two community members whose cases is already in Bondo Law court.
ActionAid and others must be supported to expose the excesses of capital. It is on this basis that we in the civil society wish to consolidate our collective effort with like-minded institutions to champion the cause of communities that have been abandoned to their destinies by our greedy and selfish leadership.