Timothy K. Roberts1, John Wibberley2

1Tropical Agriculture Association UK

2University of Reading & RAU Cirencester, UK

E-mail: ejwibberley@btinternet.com



There are considerable challenges to be faced to earn a livelihood from the semi-arid land of Laikipia, Kenya. These include periodic droughts, lack of water resources, poor infrastructure, lack of political support and the need for cooperation with neighbours. Since Kenya became independent in 1963, there have been big changes in the management of these properties, the most notable being the introduction of tourism in the 1980s which has prospered owing to the large reservoir of wildlife which exists in the area and the formation of Conservancies to protect the latter. Much of the income of the ranches is now derived from upmarket tourist lodges and safaris. However, they are still major food producers especially of quality livestock and some crops. Particular reference is made to the combined Lewa/Borana Conservancy which consists of two privately owned conservancies which have removed the fences between them to establish the largest Conservancy in the Country with a rich population of wildlife. A large area of land within Lewa was owned by one of the author’s relatives until the 1980s and his personal experience of its development over the past half century is detailed in this presentation. Conclusions for a better future are drawn.


Professor John Wibberley MA, BSc (Hons) MTh, MSc, PhD, DipEd, NSch, FRAgS, FRGS is an agriculturalist & resource management consultant working in UK and internationally, married to Jane since 1969, with two sons and six grandchildren. He is a Professor of Comparative Agriculture & Rural Extension visiting at the University of Reading UK and at the Royal Agricultural University Cirencester UK where he was previously Head of Agriculture until 1989, since when he has run his own business, REALM. He has been an Adjunct Professor in Rural Extension Studies at the University of Guelph, Canada from 1995-98. He works since the 1970s in both temperate and tropical agriculture, especially in sub-Saharan Africa but also in Asia, the Americas, Europe and elsewhere, and has worked practically with farmers’ groups in the UK and internationally for over 40 years. He was Chairman of the UK Farm Crisis Network (FCN) from 1998-2003 and still works with that charity as FCN Chairman in Devon (now Farming Community Network). From 2008-2016, John was a Secretary of State Appointee to Exmoor National Park Authority and is now a Trustee of Exmoor Society, and serves on the National Trust Council. From 1999-2018, he was Hon. Secretary and Coordinator of the UK Council for Awards of Royal Agricultural Societies which seeks to recognise excellence in contributions to practical agricultural and rural progress within the UK. He is Chairman of the SW England Group of the Tropical Agriculture Association (www.taa.org.uk).

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