Witu Nyongoro Ranch Directed Agricultural Company Ltd. is the owner of Nyongoro Ranch in Lamu district, at the northern end of the Kenyan coastline. The ranch is about 32,000 hectares. Part of it is leased by our mother company Better Globe Forestry Ltd. (BGF), whereas an estimated 17,000 hectares of the leased land can be used to plant trees. It is lush savannah land, with clumps of trees and sometimes a forest, lying across the Lamu-Malindi highway. A significant advantage of this ranch location is its proximity to Lamu port, which allows entry of big vessels. BGF, is planting our customers' Mukau trees at Nyongoro Ranch and calls the leased area for Nyongoro site.
Below follows a short history of Nyongoro Ranch from the early 1970s till date.
Witu Nyongoro Ranch was registered under the Companies Act in the early 1970s. A group of elders came together to guard the interests of livestock farmers, who are the majority in Witu Division. Currently, the ranch has close to 200 shareholders.
In the early 1980s, the ranch served its purpose well with over 1,000 head of cattle and an office with a ranch manager running it on a daily basis at its headquarters in Moa. The ranch used to supply beef to the Kenya Meat Commission’s Kibarani slaughterhouse in Mombasa.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, misfortune befell the ranch. Bandits stole hundreds of cattle and officials mismanaged the ranch, leading to its collapse. As a result, the ranch was dormant for 15 years.
Preliminary contacts between BGF and the ranch started early March 2007. Several site visits took place for assessment of the ranch and presenting BGF to the ranch committee members in Witu. These working visits continue up-do-date. BGF also keep the district authorities and the line ministries (Livestock and Agriculture) as well as the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the Kenya Forest Service and the Kenya Wildlife Service, informed of all activities BGF undertakes in Nyongoro Ranch.
Simultaneously, work related to ownership documentation was set in motion at the Ministry of Lands in Nairobi. Ownership documentation was incomplete and BGF had to dig up evidence on the ground and retrieve crucial documents to allow the ranch to receive the title deed.
In 2008, representatives of the Witu Nyongoro Ranch management and the Lamu District authorities visited our Kiambere plantation to see how large-scale plantations in Arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) look like, and get an idea of how Nyongoro Ranch would look like in future.
Between 2005 till date, many investors – including Matt International, Greenpower, Bedford, Coast Development Authority and BGF – approached the ranch with proposals to lease the land for various activities. After careful consideration, the ranch officials signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with BGF in 2008, after which the two parties established a working party and decided on activities to be carried out.
A nursery was established on site as early as 2009 as the conditions in Nyongoro are slightly different from those in Kiambere.
BGF completed the legally required environmental impact assessment (EIA) for a pilot plantation of 100 hectares, and this was approved by NEMA at the beginning of 2010.
BGF signed a lease agreement with the ranch in May 2012 and started planting mukau (Melia volkensii) despite the fact that the species is slightly out of its natural habitat. The trees grow vigorously. A bulldozer was acquired to clear the land and a large-scale establishment had started.
Some indigenous acacias trees, namely, Acacia zanzibarica and Acacia nilotica were selected for the edges around siwa (temporarily waterlogged areas). BGF also established a plantation of grafted mangoes in the southern part of the ranch and planted casuarina on a large scale as windbreaks for the mukau. Both mangoes and casuarina have short-term commercial value.