North Rift farmers want fertiliser sold at Sh2,500, not Sh6,200

Fertiliser

The farmers noted that the current prices of fertiliser and other farm inputs had skyrocketed to an all-time high and demanded that the State intervene by February 15 to reduce them.

Photo credit: File

Maize growers in the North Rift region have called on the government to introduce a subsidy programme and lower the cost of fertiliser from Sh6,200 to Sh2,500 for a 50kg bag ahead of the planting season.

The farmers noted that the current prices of fertiliser and other farm inputs had skyrocketed to an all-time high and demanded that the State intervene by February 15 to reduce them.

Kenya requires about 650,000 tonnes of fertiliser annually to attain food security, with the World Bank 2019/2020 Kenya Economic Update report indicating the government subsidy programme mostly benefits medium and large-scale farmers rather than small-scale farmers.

“When we go to the stores, we don’t get fertiliser. In agrovet shops, prices have gone up. We urge the government to introduce farm subsidies because without them, come next year, we might not get enough maize in our country,” said Thomas Bowen, a farmer from Soy, Uasin Gishu County, during a farmers’ meeting in Eldoret.

It costs Sh3,000 to produce one bag of maize, and with expensive fertiliser, the cost of flour is likely to go up next season, said Kimutai Kolum, another farmer from Soy.

“We want to demand that the government intervene to ensure that we get fertiliser. Since agriculture is a devolved function, I want to urge all counties to provide Sh1,000 for the purchase of a 50kg bag,” noted the farmer.

Last season, fertiliser retailed for Sh2,500 per 50kg bag. Currently, a 90kg bag of maize sells for between Sh3,000 and Sh3,300 in the North Rift region, with the National Cereals and Produce Board offering Sh3,000 per 90kg bag.

Moiben MP Silas Tiren, the chairperson of the Agriculture Committee in the National Assembly, revealed that he and his colleagues had engaged President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene over the high cost of fertiliser.

Started the budget process

“Farmers are not happy and if there is no timely intervention, then most farmers will not be able to go back to their farms,” he said.

“We went with Mr Joshua Kutuny and the head of state informed us that he had engaged the Cabinet and is waiting for the funds (to support) our farmers to get fertiliser and we want by February 15 we get an answer on this issue.

“The Parliament has started the budget process and we want to ensure that funds are allocated for the subsidy programme.”

He said Parliament was working on a bill to protect local maize growers.

Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) official Kipkorir Menjo asked the government to allocate Sh10 billion to the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) so that it can offer credit to farmers to purchase seeds and farm inputs.

“AFC is operating with a revolving fund of Sh6 billion and is unable to provide credit to most farmers. We want this agency to get finances to help farmers get farm inputs,” he said.

He noted that KFA was working on verifying a list of farmers in its revival bid as it seeks to restart distributing farm inputs such as certified seeds and fertiliser.

“The food security that is spearheaded by the government will not succeed when we don’t have a fertiliser subsidy programme,” he said.

Farmers on Monday accused local elected leaders of being silent about their plight, warning that they will face the wrath of voters in the August elections.

“Most of our elected leaders are now busy with political campaigns and not talking about issues affecting us. We want to tell them that we will only support those who have stood with us,” Mr Kolum said.

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