Linturi throws Kebs under the bus over fake fertiliser fiasco

Mithika Linturi in Senate

Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi (centre) and Senate Agriculture committee chairperson James Murango (right) on Thursday, April 11. 

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

The government will only compensate farmers who received 3,000 bags of fertiliser flagged as substandard, even as the Ministry of Agriculture maintains there is no fake input in the subsidy programme.

Agriculture and Livestock Development Cabinet Secretary, Mithika Linturi, yesterday said the Kenya Bureau of Standards should be blamed for the substandard fertiliser fiasco.

Appearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee, Mr Linturi said of the 2.3 million bags of fertiliser distributed as of April 4 under the subsidy programme, “only 3,000 were flagged as substandard”.

He added that the fertiliser, made by Kel Chemicals Ltd, was found to have 24 per cent of phosphorous and not 26 per cent as recommended.

On realising that, he said, the ministry directed the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to cease delivery and distribution of the input on March 20, 2024.

“If the percentage of nutrients does not meet the required level, it does not mean the fertiliser is fake,” the minister said.

“We have asked the affected farmers to return the flagged fertiliser to NCPB.”

Mr Linturi told the team chaired by Kirinyaga Senator James Murango that the ministry has put in place mechanisms to compensate the affected farmers.

He added that money that was to be paid to the maker of the flagged fertiliser has been withheld.

The minister said the NCPB would make available top-dressing fertiliser for the affected farmers, “which they will get at a lower price than the Sh2,500 or free, for those who do not want a refund”.

“Through the e-voucher system, we are able to know where the fertiliser went and who it was sold to. We have told the farmers to return the substandard fertiliser so as to be compensated,” he said.

Mr Linturi defended the government subsidy programme saying it has been successful, but added that some people are not happy with it.