Farmers in the Nyanza and Western regions have begun collecting subsidised fertilisers from the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) as planting season for the short rains winds down.
Depots in Bondo, Butere, Ugunja, Yala and Kisii towns have seen an upsurge of customers in the last few days.
This comes five days after Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua flagged off a consignment of low-cost fertiliser to different parts of Kenya.
Mr Gachagua said the government was aware of the high cost of food, especially maize flour, whose production has plunged following erratic rainfalls, the high cost of inputs such as fertiliser and other factors.
Though the fertilisers have arrived late, according to some farmers, they will help boost output.
“We have received the fertilisers, though the majority of us had already planted two or three weeks ago. We wanted to be on time with the rains that have become unpredictable nowadays,” said Mr Philip Otieno, from Alego Usonga.
He added: “Due to the high cost of the farm input, a majority of the farmers did not cultivate their farms, most of which are lying fallow. But the subsidised fertilisers will help in top dressing for those who planted earlier.”
A majority of farmers in Siaya County grow maize as the staple food.
The high cost of farm inputs and delayed rains in the previous season saw many farmers harvest very little from their farms.
Ms Dorcus Ojuok, from Anduro in Alego Usonga, told the Nation that her farm, which produced 15 bags earlier, yielded only six bags.
“We depend on rain fully. Without the rains or in instances of delays, we lose a lot,” Ms Ojuok said.
In neighbouring Homa Bay County, farmers also began collecting the fertiliser in preparation for planting.
The county has three NCPB depots. One is located in Homa Bay town and serves farmers from Rangwe, Ndhiwa, Suba and Homa Bay sub-counties.
Another is in Kendu Bay and serves farmers from Rachuonyo North and Rachuonyo East.
An NCPB selling point is also stationed in Oyugis and serves farmers from Rachuonyo South.
Fertiliser was delivered in two trucks to the Homa Bay depot, with one trailer carrying 560 bags, said an NCPB officer.
Farmers who need the farm input are required to register at their respective sub-county agriculture office.
A computer system “can be accessed by all officers from the three points, so a farmer cannot buy the commodity from two different places at the same time,” the officer said.
More bags of fertiliser are expected to be delivered.
“I cannot quantify the uptake of the farm input. We are, however, receiving farmers every day,” the officer said.
A 50kg bag of subsidised DAP fertiliser will now retail at Sh3,500, CAN at Sh2,875, UREA at Sh3,500, NPK at Sh3,275, MOP at Sh1,775 and Sulphate of Ammonia at Sh2,220.
“To set the pace for the implementation of the fertiliser subsidy programme, the National Treasury has already [provided] Sh3.55 billion,” said Mr Gachagua when he flagged off the trucks from Nairobi.