• Describe the possession of right to the use of land.
  • Or rules and conditions governing the ownership of land in a specific area.
  • Or method by which an individual or group of people acquire rights to use land in any place.

Categories of tenure systems.  

There are two main categories.

  • Collective tenure system.
  • Individual tenure system.

Collective land tenure system.

  • Communal tenure system.
  • Co-operative tenure system. S State ownership.
  1. a) Communal tenure system.

Allows (traditionally) the possession of land by the whole community or a section of the community.

Individual members have equal rights to the use of land.

Everyone uses the land as they wish.

Advantages of communal land tenure system.

  1. The problem of landlessness does not exist.
  2. Land cannot easily be fragmented.
  3. Allows free movement of livestock.
  4. Land is left to rest for a while to allow pasture regeneration.
  5. Elders of the community solve any local problems thus there are no land disputes.

[the_ad id=”1178″]


Disadvantages of communal land tenure system.

  1. As land belong to everybody, no individual has the responsibility of taking care of the land or developing it.
  2. Farmers have no incentive to manage and develop the land because it can be taken away from them at any time.
  3. Poor yields as people try to exploit the land large herds of livestock are kept resulting to overcrowding and poor animal yield.
  4. Poor stock breeding programme. Livestock keepers have no incentive to improve the quality of animals as they mix with others leading to random mating and uncontrolled breeding.
  5. Parasite and disease control. This is difficult due to mixing of animals.
  6. Farmers have no title deed which can be used as security to obtain bank loans for developing the land.
  7. Soil erosion and land denudation due to short term maximising of land, land occupants overstock the land leading to overgrazing which leads to soil erosion.
  1. b) Co-operative land tenure system.

Land is owned by a group of people on co-operative basis. A group of farmers come together to form a co-operative society and title deed is issued in the name of the co-operative.

Advantages of co-operative system.

  1. Since nobody can legally claim individual ownership of land there are no land disputes.
  2. Labour is well utilised.
  3. Profit from the land is distributed according to the number of shares an individual has in the society.
  4. Large membership increases the resources thus enhancing effective farm mechanisation.

Disadvantages of co-operative system.

  • Poor management and embezzlement of funds leads to inefficiency in the system.
  • Individuals cannot use the land title to obtain loans because the title deed is in the name of the society.
  1. c) State ownership.

Land is owned by the whole state and is referred to as government land.

The state controls the use of land. E.g. ADC farms and Ujamaa villages in Tanzania.

[the_ad id=”1178″]



  • Generates income to the state which is equally distributed to the citizens.
  • May open up more employment opportunities to citizens and give refuge to squatters.


  • Operates in a non-competitive market which may results in low quality production.
  • Workers involved do not have as much motivation as for individual ownership.


Land is owned by an individual who either operates or leaves it to another person.


  • Individual owner operator.
  • Concession/company.

The individual owner operator.

Farmer owns and operates the land.

Advantages of individual operator.

  • Provides the greatest incentive in farming, conservation and improvement of land.
  • Where the farmer has a title deed, it acts as security to obtain agricultural credits/loans.
  • Owner has incentive for long term investment in the land.
  • The owner can sell or give away the whole or part of the land.

Disadvantages of individual operator.

  • There is increase in government cost especially extension services.
  • In case the farmer uses title deed as security to obtain a loan which is not repaid, the land is sold.
  • Encourages land fragmentation.
  • May encourage inequality in land ownership hence poor resource distribution.

[the_ad id=”1178″]


Landlordism and tenancy.

The landlord transfer the right to use of land to the tenant at a payment.

Agreement may be formal or informal.

Where the agreement is formal, both the tenant and landlord know their obligations and tenant has a legal backing.

Leasehold land tenure system.

Form of landlordism where the state gives legal rights to individuals to own and use land for a specified period of time.

If the lease period is long and rent rates fixed, economic performance may be quite good.

Advantages of landlordism and tenancy.

  • Landlords who cannot use their land get income after renting to tenants.
  • Land that would otherwise be idle is put into agricultural use by tenants thus increasing production.
  • Landless can rent land from the landlords to earn a livelihood.
  • Reduces disputes since the landlord or the state controls its allocation.
  • Ensures equitable distribution of land as a natural resource.

 Disadvantages of landlordism and tenancy. 

  • If tenants have no written agreement, they will have no incentive on the land.
  • Where lease period is short, the tenants may have no incentive to make long term investments.
  • Land rates are not fixed by the government which may lead to overexploitation of tenants.
  • Where lease periods are short, the main consideration is profit maximisation and the tenant is not concerned about land improvement.


Concession. Agreement between the company and the government on the use of land for a specified period of time.

Also called estates/plantations. Involves large scale production of one commodity only.


  • Achieves good economic results due to high efficiency in land use and management.
  • Benefits the country by creating employment to the citizens and paying taxes to the government.


  • The companies may engage in monopolistic practices.
  • If management is inefficient, huge losses may be incurred.
  • Where ownership is wholly foreign, benefits to the country are limited to job creation and paying taxes to the government.
  • They are liable to labour and social problems which could adversely affect its economic performance.

[the_ad id=”1178″]




Situation where a single farmer owns several parcels of land scattered over a wide area.


  • Shifting cultivation.

In most cases the first person to clear and open up the piece of land is assumed owner. In the long run, one individual ends up owning several but scattered pieces of land. Due to population pressure such movement is no longer possible. Thus the farmer end up with fragmented land.

  • The traditional system.

This is where each heir is entitled to an equal share of inheritance. The farmer is forced to sub divide land to the family in equal shares.

  • Population pressure on a limited area of land.

A famer may be forced to buy several pieces of land in different places as a result of population pressure on the limited amount of land.

  • Accumulation of land holdings.

By money lenders as a results of debtors failing to pay.

  • Method of settling debts in the traditional society.

Whoever may have been owned such debts ended up owning several pieces of land.


It is the partitioning of a piece of land into small portions.

When an individual wants to subdivide land, an application is made to the Land Control Board stating the sizes of portions into which land has to be sub-divided.

Once consent is obtained then a land surveyor will survey the land and subdivide it accordingly, giving the portions new registration numbers.

The survey department then takes the new numbers to the land registry to register them in the new owner’s names and issue new certificates which cancel the old ones.

Inheritance is the acquisition of land by children from their parents or older relative.

For one to inherit a registered land upon the death of a relative one is expected to fill the

“transmission/notification and death form” a death certificate will be required during the application for certificate of succession form. The name or names of people who intend to inherit the land are stated in this form. All these documents are forwarded to the magistrate’s court. The court will then summon the person or persons concerned to determine who should inherit the land. The magistrate, having determined the inheritance will inform the land registry which then register the new owner(s) and cross out the name of the previous owner.

[the_ad id=”1178″]



  • Time is wasted while travelling from one holding to another or from the farmstead to the various fragment.
  • Proper and effective control of weeds and pests become difficult since the fragments are surrounded by other farmer’s holdings. The other holdings may have been neglected so they become sources of infestation.
  • Difficulties of following a sound farm plan arising from the distance between fragments and the farmer’s home.
  • Difficulties in the supervision of the scattered plots.
  • Control of livestock parasites and diseases is difficult as they are transmitted as animals move from one filed to another.
  • Difficulties in carrying out various soil conservation measures without the cooperation and concerted efforts from all the farmers. Such soil conservation devices may also take unduly large portions of the fragments.
  • The size and shape of such holdings may be such that it is virtually impossible for the farmer to restrict grazing in one holding only. It could turn out to be a kind of communal grazing.
  • Difficulties of offering extension advice. Thus it becomes difficult to help the farmer to increase farm productivity.


Any organised action designed to improve the structure of land tenure and land use.

Or integrated programmes to bring about more effective control and use of land.

Aims at altering the system or rights to the use of farming land in such as way as to achieve the most effective utilisation of agricultural resources.


  • Land tenure reform.
  • Land consolidation.
  • Land adjudication and registration.
  • Settlement and resettlement.


Programmes aimed at altering the land tenure legislation so as to enhance effective utilisation of land.

Important objectives of land tenure reform.

  • To encourage conservation measures on the land and general improvement of the land.
  • To achieve increasing productivity of both land and labour.
  • To encourage commercial instead of subsistence production in order to ensure meaningful employment in rural areas.
  • To encourage farmers to invest more through offering security of tenure.
  • To achieve flexibility in farming patterns to meet changing national and market demands.
  • To achieve effective utilisation of national land resources, including settlement of unused land and introduction of irrigation schemes where applicable.

Examples of land tenure reform.

  • The improvement of land tenure legislation.
  • The consolidation of fragmented holdings.
  • The tenancy reforms.
  • The redistribution of land.
  • Formal registration of individual land titles.

[the_ad id=”1178″]



This is bringing together fragmented pieces of land under one holding for better and more effective utilisation.

Involves establishment of ownership, measurement, description and recording of each fragment.

Individual fragments are then consolidated (put together) into one holding, around the most developed or biggest parcel.

Development measures such as creation of villages, farm planning, construction of access roads and access to water are undertaken in the process.

Advantages of land consolidation.

  • Proper supervision of land.
  • Economic use of time and saving on transport cost.
  • Agricultural advice by the extension officers is possible.
  • Sound farm planning and adoption of crop rotation programmes.
  • Soil conservation and land improvement. Facilitates carrying out of soil conservation practices as well as farm mechanisation since the holdings are enlarged.
  • Construction of permanent structures such as fencing and buildings is possible.
  • Economic operation of activities on the land is possible since it gives the farmer a large single unit of land.
  • If the land is already registered, it gives the farmer legal ownership and the title deed which can be used to obtain loans.
  • Weed, pest and disease control is enhanced.


Land adjudication involves the establishment of ownership, measurement, description and recording of land.

The government sends its adjudication officials who liaise with the chiefs and local farmers to establish concretely the ownership of land within a specified are.

At the end of the whole process a land certificate or title deed is issued to each farmer whose land has been adjudicated as evidence of legal ownership.

Information contained in the land register and the title deed.

  • The number of the title, which is the same as land parcel number or location.
  • Size of land.
  • The name and identity number of the owner.
  • Type of ownership e.g. absolute. Leasehold or freehold.
  • Conditions of ownership if any.
  • Seal and signature of the issuing officer. 7) Date of registration.

Advantages of holding a land title deed.

  • It can be used to secure credit facilities necessary for land development, hence encouraging commercial farming.
  • Since the registration confers security of tenure, any land disputes are minimised.
  • Tenure security encourages farmers to invest in long term and permanent projects and care for the soil.
  • Enables the occupant to lease all the land nor part of it thus get extra income.



Occupation of land which was previously uninhabited. Or planned and controlled transfer of population from one area to another which is uninhabited or sparsely habited.


Process of transferring people from densely populated areas to sparsely populated areas.

Objectives of land redistribution. 

  • To ease population pressure from over-populated areas.
  • To increase agricultural production by making better use of uninhabited or idle land.
  • To create employment. By increasing agricultural production people become selfemployed.
  • To form some kind of tstetste fly consolidated barrier e.g. in lambwe valley in Kenya.

Development of settlement schemes in Kenya.

European settlement.

The government enacted two land ordinances in 1903 and 1911 to provide for the “alienation of the land” for European settlers. Most settlers were farming for the export market because there was plenty of land, cheap labour and a small local market for agriculture products.

African settlement.

Resettlement schemes were mainly concerned with population relief.

Early settlement.

This was the first phase of African settlement programme, before independence.

At first communal settlements were tried but later failed due to lack of co-operative spirit among farmers.

These settlement did not satisfy the hunger for land by Africans which lead to the “million acre scheme”.  Later settlement.

Second phase of African settlement programme. The main aim was to transfer most of the land in Kenyan highlands formerly occupied by the whites to the Africans.

The million acre scheme.

The aim was to transfer one million acres of land in the “white highlands” to Africans by the time independence was achieved.

The “million Acre scheme” was dived into the following categories:

  1. High Density schemes.

These were high density areas where land was fertile and productive and could be farmed intensively. Average land size was 11 hectares.

  1. Low density schemes.

Found in areas where land was relatively poor, population was low and farmers had larger holdings. Average land size was 15 hectares per person. More successful in terms of development and loan repayment and production than the high density schemes.

General objectives of the Million Acre scheme.

  • To transfer land from the white settlers to the Africans.
  • To reduce population pressure in the African reserves.
  • To settle former employees of European farmers and squatters.
  • To solve the unemployment problems.
  • To increase agricultural production, through better methods of land utilisation.
  • To maintain production levels achieved by former white settlers and also earn foreign exchange from the sale of cash crops.

[the_ad id=”1178″]


Examples of settlements under this scheme.

  • Ol Kalou salient scheme.

Was an experiment aimed at co-operative large scale farming. Each member was allocated one hectare for subsistence and to build a house on.

Some of the land was bought by the Kenyan government and distributed to African farmers.

  • Harambee settlement schemes.

The average land size was 15 hectares per person. Concentrated on growing maize and rearing of cattle. No development loans was given.

  • “Z” plots.

Were 100-acre plots surrounding the houses formerly owned by white settlers. Sold to wealthy Africans at high cost because they had improved permanent structures such as milking parlours, dips, fences, water and lighting systems.

Other settlement schemes.

  • Jet schemes.

Curved out from the national forests before independence and were administered by the provincial administration. For credit and issue of land certificates.

  • Haraka schemes.

Made out of abandoned and mismanaged farms administered by the Central Land Board. Squatters on theses farms were registered, and given plots upon payment of a small fee.

  • Shirika schemes.

Were meant to buy the European settlers’ farms in the high potential areas and settle the landless. Managed by competent managers on behalf of the co-operatives and the government. Settlers’ were given 2 hectares for subsistence and had to provide all the labour.

  • Lari settlement scheme.

Found in kiambu district. Was a high density scheme based on mixed farming.

Requirements for the success of settlement schemes.

  • There should be high population pressure in the reserves.
  • There should be adequate economic incentive.
  • The social cost of moving from home community and the discipline imposed for sound agriculture and extra effort.
  • Setters should come from far distances from the schemes in order to be able to break from traditional society and stay on the scheme.
  • Settlers should have enough capital.





Stay Connected
Must Read
Related News