By Prudence Minayo
Kisima farm is a 1000 acre property located in Mata ward, Taita Taveta county and linked to the deputy president William Ruto. The DP purchased the land from former Taveta Member of Parliament Basil Criticos. According to several local publications, the deputy president added the farm to his vast wealth acquisitions in 2017.
The previous owner wanted to evict squatters from the farm but it proved an uphill task. When the farm changed ownership, over 20 families were evicted.
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The sprawling farm is involved in crop production and rearing of animals.
The farm was embroiled in a water crisis which reached its peak after the court ordered the disconnection of all illegal water points in the farm. The water crisis involved access to the Grogan Canal which drains into the farm. This canal, constructed during the colonial period, is fed by streams from the Njoro area and has for a long time been a source of confrontation. Locals complained that freshwater in the area is a preserve of the wealthy ranch owners.
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Trouble with Kisima farm began when Tavevo, owned by the Taita Taveta county government, alleged there were illegal connections of water from the canal to the farm. The company sought orders to venture into the farm after residents complained they could not access water in the canal as it was being used by the farm.
Unpaid Wages Protests
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The farm was again in the headlines due to protests by workers over unpaid wages. The farmers held protests at the gate crying out that they had not been paid for six weeks. They said they were tired of empty promises from the farm’s management with one of them saying all activities in the farm are normal and there is no financial crisis. Another farmer complained of the low payment and said despite working there for over five years, he is yet to be employed permanently.
Another farm hand accused the manager Arie Dempers for being very cruel and subjecting them to inhumane treatment. The farmers earn between Sh300 to Sh500 a day.
“He tells us that if we don’t want to work we should leave. He is very hostile to workers,” he said.
In 2020, the farm manager was arrested after storming a mosque with a rifle and interrupting prayers.
The farm management has not commented on the situation.
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