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Dehydration Factory, Kenya

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 14 May 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the Kenya Government decided to dismantle the dehydration factory built during the war at Karatina at a cost of £250,000.

The factory, the capital cost of which was £121,000, was built on native land to meet war needs and the Africans concerned were promised that at the end of the war it would not be carried on without their consent. This undertaking was considered necessary at the time as otherwise they would not have consented to the use of the land. Last year they asked that the factory should be handed over to them on payment, but, in view of the very doubtful future prospects of marketing dried vegetables and the almost certain loss of native capital involved, the Governor did not feel able to agree to this request. Proposals for the sale of the factory, either to outside interests or to a group consisting of a combination of European and African interests and the Kenya Government, were categorically rejected by the Africans concerned after every effort had been made by the Chief Native Commissioner to persuade them to agree. These negotiations made it quite clear that the only course acceptable would be complete dismemberment of the factory and in view of the undertaking given the Governor saw no alternative to proceeding accordingly. I can assure the hon. Member that the Kenya Government did everything possible to keep the factory going.