Outrage as cheap fertiliser for Kakamega farmers ends up in shops
Farmers in Kakamega County are up in arms after subsidised seeds and fertiliser meant for them ended up in the hands of traders who later sold them at exorbitant prices.
It is reported that traders from the neighbouring counties of Bungoma, Busia and Siaya bought the inputs in bulk to sell in their shops.
The scam is taking place through collusion between county officials and agro dealers who conspire to subvert the process aimed at cushioning small scale farmers from the region.
Instead, the farm inputs are sold to middlemen in bulk and end up in the market to be sold to farmers who want to buy in small quantities at exorbitant prices.
Many farmers complain that they are incurring huge transport costs to reach the county offices only to be disappointed by the officers in charge of the programme.
After making three trips to the county offices, Mr Said Wamukoya, a farmer from Mwilunya village in Mumias West sub-county failed to buy three kilos of maize seeds and 25kg of planting fertiliser.
“I ended up purchasing the agricultural inputs from retail shops. Each 2kg packet of maize seeds cost me Sh600 instead of the Sh300 sold by the county government. This programme did not come to help the common farmers but the well-off traders and county officials,” lamented Mr Wamukoya.
Mr Evans Anjere, a farmer from Muluanda in Khwisero sub-county, claimed there was fraud in the subsidised farm input scheme that is flooded by middlemen.
Mr Anjere has a two-acre farm and required six bags of fertiliser and 20 packets of maize seeds, but was turned away with claims that they were not available.
“I did not leave the centre immediately, but to my surprise, a trader I know is from Yala in Siaya County came with a pick-up and was given the input in bulk,” he said.
Mr Anjere said there was a deliberate effort to deny farmers in Kakamega the inputs. He feared that this would contribute to food shortage in the area.
County Agriculture Executive Benjamin Andama, however, acknowledged that they are aware of the fraud in the sale of the farm inputs.
“It was so rampant but we have instructed our officers at the ward level to account for the input under their care,” he said.
He pointed out that the county will scrutinise the details of genuine farmers who registered for the programme in order to unravel the truth.
He said the demand from farmers had gone up because of the quality and price of the inputs.
“In the southern and northern regions, the demand overwhelmed our supply because of subsidisation. But we shall be bringing 120,000 bags of topdressing fertiliser next week,” he added.
Kakamega County procured inputs worth Sh713 million to be distributed to potential farmers at lower prices for planting ahead of the long rain season as a way of boosting food production.
The county procured 130,000 2kg bags of certified maize seeds and 120,000 25kg bags of both planting and top dressing fertiliser.
The county is selling a 50kg bag of planting fertiliser at Sh2,960, with 25kg of top dressing fertiliser at Sh1,165. A 2kg packet of maize seeds is retailing at Sh300.
This came as a relief to the majority of farmers who would depend on the national government subsidised fertiliser that retails at Sh3,000 and has to be procured from the National Cereals and Produce Board.
Governor Fernandes Barasa said the county has allocated Sh10 billion in its 2023-2027 County Integrated Development Plan to agriculture, aimed to be spent on various projects to improve livelihoods through farming.
The county has invested over Sh3 billion in subsidised farm inputs since the inception of the programme in 2015, with Mr Barasa saying the farm inputs subsidy programme has helped improve maize productivity in the county from eight bags per acre to 14 bags.
“This has led to a steady growth in food production with the county recording 2.8 million bags of maize in 2022 up from 1.9 bags of 2013,” said.