Government receives fertilizer for the next planting season
The Government has procured 100,000 metric tonnes of CAN fertilizer which is being transported to National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) stores from Mombasa.
The Agriculture Principal Secretary (PS), Richard Lesiyampe said the government would be selling the fertilizer to more than two million small scale farmers currently under the subsidized fertilizer program at Sh.1, 200 this year down from last year’s price of Sh.1, 800 per 50 kilogramme bag.
In a press interview in his office on Thursday, Lesiyampe said the subsidized fertilizers price has been reduced by 33.3 percent from Sh.1, 800 last year to Sh.1, 200 per bag.
“We have received assorted fertilizer of up to 100,000 metric tonnes that will be distributed to farmers for the coming long rains season expected to start mid next month,” said Dr. Lesiyampe.
He explained that of the total used fertilizer in the country by farmers for planting, government provides between 25-30 percent while the top dressing will be distributed within the course of the season.
“Farmers consume about 600,000 metric tonnes annually and two thirds, which is about 450,000 Mt. is supplied by the private sector while the government subsidy is below one third,” he said.
He added that the government was hopeful the uptake of the fertilizer by the farmers will increase production, noting that with proper and timely application, it can have a positive impact on the crops.
“We regret that farmers in some cases do apply the manure late thus affecting food production,” Lesiyampe noted.
The Government has been working towards having its own manufacturing plant in order to cut high cost of farm inputs.
Six years ago, Toyota Tshusho Corporation was the first Japanese company that signed a comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Kenya to pursue fertilizer manufacturing initiative.
Three years later, the company established the Toyota Tshusho Fertilizer Africa (TTFA) a wholly owned subsidiary and proceeded to construct a fertilizer blending plant.
Newtown Terer, the NCPB Managing Director acknowledged that the amount of fertilizer is little as the country normally requires about 10-12 million bags annually.
Farmers, especially in the North Rift have been calling upon the National Government to make adequate subsidized fertilizer available in time and at affordable prices.
The Kenya Farmers’ Association (KFA) Uasin Gishu Branch Director, Kipkorir Menjo early last week said having the input in time and at the affordable prices would help them plant early.
North Rift is the country’s grain basket and farmers have also been complaining of long queues at the NCPB depots as they buy, saying it delayed the planting schedules.
Cartels who buy off the subsidized fertilizer only to resell to farmers at exorbitant prices is also a major setback while the issue of forming co-operative societies for ease of transportation to small scale farmers also posed a challenge.
By Wangari Ndirangu