Speed up fertiliser probe

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi’s earlier spirited denials notwithstanding, there is now compelling evidence that fake fertilisers may have been sold to farmers in various parts of the country.

The government, of which the CS is a part, has ordered the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to stop distributing the fertilisers under its subsidy programme. CS Linturi and his team of top officials should now ensure that what is already in circulation is immediately recalled and destroyed.

There has been a public outcry after farmers across the country revealed that they had been supplied with pebbles and other material disguised as fertilisers. It is, therefore, encouraging to note that the government has ordered an investigation to unearth the crooked fellows behind the scam.

Aware of the gravity of the matter, a National Development Implementation Committee (NDIC) meeting chaired by Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and attended by the Principal Secretaries, directed the NCPB to stop distribution and allow investigations to be carried out.

To calm the public fears over the scandal, the government has reiterated its support to farmers to improve farm yields. Indeed, this fertiliser subsidy programme that saw the price of a 50kg bag of the input reduced by half to about Sh3,000 was one of the government’s first actions on assuming office following the August 2022 elections.

It was meant to help farmers boost food and cash crop production to enhance food security and livelihoods. The inquiry should be speeded up and stern action taken against those found culpable.

To avoid a repeat of this mess, the authorities must ensure that procurement laws are complied with and due diligence carried out to avoid dealing with inept organisations that lack integrity and the capacity to effectively deliver contracted goods and services.