Distribute fertiliser fairly

The supply of subsidised fertiliser to farmers has been lauded as a key achievement by the Ruto administration.

Often mentioned is the reduction of the price of a 50-kilogramme bag from Sh6,500 to Sh3,500 to make it more affordable to farmers, especially the majority of smallholders.

Quite early in the tenure of President William Ruto after the elections of August last year, the fertiliser subsidy was his major public pronouncement, and it was quite well-received.

As this was being rolled out, food and fuel subsidies were scrapped as being unsustainable. Many Kenyans were ready to give the new leadership the benefit of the doubt.

However, some doubts have now arisen, necessitating the revisiting of the subsidised fertiliser scheme. When it was launched, it came in time for the short rainy season, and it was expected that this handy farm input would help to boost productivity and yields.

No information has been forthcoming about the real impact of this intervention by the Kenya Kwanza Alliance administration to enhance agricultural production.

Too costly

However, there are now loud murmurs regarding government-supplied and subsidised fertiliser. Farmers are complaining that this vital input has become either too costly or is not available in adequate quantities.

Where it is available, they say, they have had to buy additional supplies to supplement the subsidised quantity. The country needs about 650,000 tonnes of fertiliser annually but some farmers plant crops without applying it due to high cost.

Some farmers in the Rift Valley have thus questioned the efficiency of the government issue, revealing that they often have to mix it with other brands or buy twice the average amount. This is costly in the long run, which defeats the purpose of the subsidy programme.

Some experts have corroborated these complaints. The government should now urgently address the farmers’ grievances to get value from its initiative.


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