Real estate redesigns agriculture

Many farmers are feeling the pressure of urbanisation and they are damned if they sell their farms and damned if they don’t. Home & Away explores their prevailing predicament   With the increase in demand for affordable housing, coffee farmers are being enticed by developers to sell their farms for a better and immediate return on their investment in real estate.  Though this appears to be a good prospective for some farmers, others have resolved to hold onto their farms.   With a steady increase in population, the need for housing in Nairobi has led to an upsurge of development projects within the city and its environs.
Land that was traditionally agricultural is quickly being turned into concrete jungles to house city residents. This increase in housing units in areas that were previously regarded as fringe zones has brought with it another aspect of urbanisation, which is quickly spreading in Nairobi and its neighbouring counties — the growth of suburbs.   While some are of the opinion that real estate development around the city is a threat to food security, others see it as inevitable and timely.   Suburban bliss Areas such Ongata Rongai, Kiambu, Ngong, Athi River and Kitengela have in a subtle way associated with the capital city. Apart from these areas, shopping malls are mushrooming in almost every corner of the city hence reducing the human traffic to the centre of the city.   There are small commercial centres that have come up more recently like Galleria Mall, Capital Centre, Karen Shopping Centre, Junction Mall and Buru Buru. These have sought to provide a number of services to the residents living around those areas.   In Kiambu County, tracts of land that had hitherto been under coffee and tea farming are being turned into residential estates. A good example is Tatu City, which is expected to be an exceptional city, the first of its kind of comprehensive planning in Kenya.   Some say it is inevitable, as every town situated in a neighbourhood that is agriculturally productive will always expand into the agricultural land.   Trevor Kanja, the managing director of Nairobi Homes, states that with the development of residential areas farther out of the city centre, other services are bound to be in demand in those areas.   Positive outlook ?Says Kanja: “It does not make sense when a person spends more than half an hour travelling from Westlands to Lang’ata in this era of traffic jams; services, therefore, come close to the people so that they can access them without having to travel far.

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