Use unions to register farmers for cheap fertiliser, state urged

Subsidised fertiliser

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua flags off of DAP subsidised fertiliser to various regions of Kenya.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru I Nation Media Group

The Kenya National Farmers’ Federation (Kenaff) has raised an issue with the government’s decision to register farmers for the subsidised fertiliser programme through chiefs and their assistants.

The union wants farmers’ organisations allowed to do the registration as they have enough data. In a statement released to newsrooms yesterday, Kenaff lauded efforts by the government to uplift the livelihoods of smallholder farmers through the farm inputs subsidy programme and necessary steps being taken to curb malpractices.

However, the statement went on to say, Kenaff was not comfortable with the use of the national government administration officers to conduct the exercise.

“[The] registration should be the preserve of farmers’ organisations with the support of the national and county governments. This is well elaborated in the Crops Act 2013 (No.16 of 2013) which mandates the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) to, in liaison with relevant stakeholders, undertake the registration of primary producers,” Kenaff said in the statement.

Famers' database

The federation revealed that it has a database of some 1.6 million farmers countrywide.

The umbrella body of farmers’ organisations said lawmakers in 2019 mandated it to establish and maintain a solid and up-to-date national farmers’ database.

Kenaff wants the registration exercise reverted back to AFA in collaboration with the farmers’ unions.

“Our core mandate as a federation is to represent, articulate, promote and protect the interests of the farmers of Kenya through the lobby, advocacy, policy action and farmer empowerment,” Kenaff said.

The government has set stringent conditions for the registration of farmers countrywide who are to benefit from the fertiliser subsidy programme in a bid to weed out impostors and brokers.

It is out to create a digitised national register to classify genuine farmers and acreage under crop production to enhance transparency in the implementation of the subsidy scheme.

In the strategy, assistant county commissioners are to train chiefs and their assistants in identifying and registering genuine farmers ahead of the planting season.

Government programmes

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi and Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo are the top officials spearheading the use of data to provide “managed access” to government programmes by farmers.

Farmers are not required to produce title deeds to ascertain landownership in order to benefit.

“Farmers with lease agreements should be allowed to benefit from the scheme considering that they are major contributors to crop production,” said Mr Kipkorir Menjo, the Kenya Farmers Association director.