HC Deb 28 October 1943 vol 393 cc391-2W
Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress is being made in Kenya to counteract the serious deterioration of soil in the African areas of occupation?

Colonel Stanley

Considerable progress has been made in Kenya with the conservation of the soil in both African and European areas in spite of difficulties of staff and equipment due to the war. The primary aim is to achieve conservation of the soil and its fertility by means of a sound system of mixed farming in all areas suitable to this type of agriculture. A special soil conservation branch of the Department of Agriculture was established in 1938 to perform advisory and experimental work and to supervise and carry out conservation schemes in native and European areas. In 1940 the Land and Water Preservation Ordinance and Rules were promulgated which gave wide powers for the protection of the resources of the country. New and more comprehensive rules under the Ordinance were promulgated this year. A Land and Water Conservation Committee was appointed in 1941, and in the same year the Control of Grass Fires Ordinance was enacted with the object of lessening the effects of grass burning on soil erosion.

As an example of the progress which has been achieved, it may be said that in the Central Province by the end of 1940 narrow-based terraces had been constructed on 70,000 acres and live washtops on over 17,000 acres. During 1942 in the same province narrow-based terraces were made over 27,000 acres, 935 miles of terraces being constructed in Kiambu, formerly the most backward district. Other measures were also carried out on a large scale. The Governor of Kenya has recently informed me that he is submitting proposals for the extension of work on soil conservation and is applying for a grant under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act for the purpose. The proposals apparently contemplate operations on a much extended scale and will involve considerable additional staff and expenditure.