CS Linturi defends Sh10bn fertiliser subsidy deal amid probe

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi before the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture and Livestock

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi before the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture and Livestock to respond to queries on the maize flour subsidy programme at Parliament Buildings on March 22, 2023. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has defended the government on the procurement of subsidised fertiliser following revelations of a suspicious money trail in the multi-billion-shilling tender.

A report by the Daily Nation revealed that financial regulators were scrutinising transactions by Mashambani Farm Inputs Ltd, which was awarded a Sh10.2 billion tender to supply fertiliser to the Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC).

Regulators have raised questions over unexplained cash withdrawals immediately after the company received money from KNTC.

But speaking while inspecting the distribution of fertiliser at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depot in Meru on Friday, Mr Linturi dismissed the revelations as "the work of busybodies”.

Mr Linturi said “according to me, I don’t think there is a problem” with the subsidised fertiliser procurement process.

“Anyone who wants to interrogate the subsidised fertiliser process should raise questions with the Ministry of Agriculture or the Ministry of Trade. I will be able to answer appropriately,” Mr Linturi said.

He added, “Anyone can come up with allegations that there were funny deals but they should explain how we lowered the price of fertiliser from Sh7,000 to Sh3,500. This tells you that there are no such deals…we are open to scrutiny.”

CS Linturi said the government was keen on lowering the price of fertiliser to below Sh3,000 in the next season.

He added that seeds and other essential farm inputs such as pesticides will be included in the government subsidy.

“We are also working on a plan to have subsidised fertiliser delivered to farmers through farm inputs traders across the country. This will save farmers the time they spend travelling to NCPB depots. I assure farmers that next season, they will be buying the fertiliser at their nearest agrovet,” the CS said.

To further lower the cost of fertiliser, Mr Linturi said the government was in talks with a Burundian investor based in Tanzania to set up a factory in Kenya.