Kenya Kwanza MPs absolve Ruto's government from blame in fake fertiliser saga

Fake seeds

Nakuru County Commissioner Lyford Kibaara, Kephis ag director responsible for seed quality Simon Maina and other top county security team brief the media at the Rift Valley DCI headquarters after seizing fake seeds worth more than Sh13 million.

Photo credit: Boniface Mwangi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi said the government has imported 12.5 million bags of the input.
  • Last weekend, police in Nakuru County seized 34 bags of fake fertiliser in Eldama Ravine.

The raging controversy over the alleged sale of substandard fertiliser continues to draw a heated debate.

A section of Kenya Kwanza politicians are now accusing unscrupulous traders of selling fake products to sabotage the government's efforts to subsidise the important farm input.

On Monday, Emurua Dikkir MP Johanna Ngeno and his Soy counterpart David Kiplagat petitioned investigative agencies to launch a probe into the issue.

The MP also claimed that the fake fertiliser had been bought by the previous administration and repackaged and sold to unsuspecting farmers to make President William Ruto look bad.

“We want proper investigations to be done so that we know who these culprits are. We want the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture to also investigate the matter,” Mr Ngeno said at an event in Chuiyat in Kesses Sub-county, Uasin Gishu County.

The legislator called on the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to crack down on the sellers.

His sentiments were echoed by Mr Kiplagat, who, as a member of the Agriculture Committee in the House, pledged to petition his colleagues to commence an inquiry to unravel the controversy.

He claimed that the fertiliser might have been bought by the previous regime and repackaged before being sold to unsuspecting farmers.

“I want to assure farmers that the fertiliser in the NCPB (National Cereals and Produce Board) stores is of the right quality and has not been compromised. However, we will investigate within the next month so that the culprits can be arrested and stern action taken against them,” the MP said.

The MP for Kesses, Julius Rutto, and the MP for Chesumei, Paul Biyego, also alleged that some people were out to derail the government's fertiliser subsidy programme.

“This government is committed to curbing food insecurity and we will not allow individuals who are unhappy with the subsidy programme to sabotage it,” said Mr Rutto.

Crops Development and Research Principal Secretary Paul Rono had a fortnight ago said that the fertiliser that is being distributed to farmers through NCPB depots have undergone quality tests and were found to be above board.

Amid talks of a biting shortage, the PS had said the ministry has distributed 1.2 million bags of fertiliser to the farmers across the country and was working to distribute more than three million bags within the next two weeks.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi revealed that the government has imported 12.5 million bags of the input.

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi called on the Ministry of Agriculture to streamline the distribution network, saying, farmers were struggling to access the commodity due to hitches.

“We have issues in some depots,” Mr Sudi said at the time, hinting at the existence of corruption in the supply chain. 

Last weekend, police in Nakuru County seized 34 bags of fake fertiliser in Eldama Ravine and an additional 560 bags in Molo as they were being delivered to NCPB depots.

The board has recalled suspected fake fertiliser sold to farmers, even as those who have already planted their crops using the substandard input expressed fears of incurring losses.

They want compensation from the firms implicated in the scandal.

“We are keeping payment receipts and packing materials as evidence with a view of seeking compensation,” said Mr James Kosgei, a farmer from Moi’s Bridge in Uasin Gishu County.

Aside from the fake fertiliser saga, the government’s programme has been hit with logistical challenges affecting distribution, with the latest data from the Ministry of Agriculture indicating that the input was missing in most NCPB depots, resulting in biting shortages.

Although the report indicates that Uasin Gishu County has a stock of 71,345 bags, there are no stocks in most NCPB centres as farmers pile pressure on the government to hasten the distribution of the affordable fertiliser.

The report further indicates that there are 16,942 bags in Bungoma, but the fertiliser is missing at the Webuye NCPB depot, casting doubt on the availability of the product in other distribution centres in the region.

According to the report, Nakuru has 18,298 bags of fertiliser while Trans Nzoia, another key main growing zone, has 28,466 bags, figures which are not reflecting at NCPB's stores.

“The figures do not reflect what we have distributed, but we are doing our best to ensure that farmers receive the fertiliser,” said a senior ministry official in charge of distribution and who requested anonymity.

The data indicates that Bomet has 29,932 bags, Kericho 17,019 and the total stock ready for distribution as per the end of last week was 368,117 bags.

The country requires 650,000 tonnes of fertiliser annually for optimum production.