7-day fertiliser collection window short, farmers say
What you need to know:
- The government has rolled out the electronic voucher fertiliser subsidy programme under which farmers are only allowed to access the commodity within seven days of receiving an SMS notification.
- Under the system, farmers are notified of the number of bags they qualify for.
- A unique code ensures that only genuine farmers benefit, thus locking out unscrupulous traders.
Some farmers have protested the one-week limit on access to subsidised fertiliser under the voucher system.
The government has rolled out the electronic voucher fertiliser subsidy programme under which farmers are only allowed to access the commodity within seven days of receiving an SMS notification.
Under the system, farmers are notified of the number of bags they qualify for. A unique code ensures that only genuine farmers benefit, thus locking out unscrupulous traders.
The farmers now want the government to extend the period of redeeming the voucher after the notification message has been sent. They fear that they will lose out should they fail to collect the farm input in the set time.
“We want to request the government to remove the one-week cap because most of us are still in the dark about how this system will operate. Some of us have been busy taking children to schools,” said Alexander Kiprop, a farmer from Moiben.
Hundreds of farmers started thronging National Cereal Produce Board (NCPB) depots in the North Rift on Monday after President William Ruto announced the availability of subsidised fertiliser to registered farmers across the country.
The fertiliser being distributed by NCPB is retailing at Sh3,500 per 50-kilogramme bag.
At the main entrance of the NCPB depot in Eldoret, hundreds of farmers have been waiting in long queues since Monday for their turn to obtain the farm input ahead of the planting season. Whereas some were lucky, others will have to wait a little bit longer.
Mr Thomas Bowen, a farmer from Moiben was hopeful that this year he will get the right fertiliser at the right time. He was in position 700 on the queue.
“I am not worried. I will soon get my fertiliser, either on Friday or Saturday,” said the farmer.
Farmers went through different verification processes before getting the commodity. So far, farmers in the region have received more than 20,000 bags of subsidised fertiliser.
NCPB North Rift Regional Manager Gilbert Rotich assured farmers that there was sufficient supply to cover the planting season.
Mr Rotich said all NCPB depots in the region have been stocked with the fertiliser to save farmers from incurring extra expenses transporting the farm input from the Eldoret main depot.
“We have received over 15,000 bags of fertiliser in Kitale, over 2,000 at the Meitei depot in Nandi and over 2,000 at Mosoriot,” he said.
The official also reassured farmers of the fertiliser’s quality, noting that they had imported the commodity from two reputable firms. “The fertiliser we have is of the best quality, suited for this region. We have received over 20,000 bags of two varieties; Yara micro planting and Kyno maize from ETG,” said Mr Rotich