Sh6b wasted on fertiliser as State plan fails to raise yields
Food production in the country has not improved despite the Government pumping Sh6.5 billion into buying cheap fertiliser for farmers, new data show.
Official data indicate production of cereals – maize, wheat and rice – which are critical for food security in the country, barely improved between 2009 and last year.
This is despite the Government allocating additional funds for the input every financial year.
Yields of the three food crops has stagnated at 535,000 tonnes since the programme was launched in 2009, according to the data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and the Agriculture Ministry.
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About 1.9 million farmers are estimated to have received the cheap fertiliser, with the ministry noting that yields of maize had improved from to 18 bags per acre from 15.
However, estimates from the marketing boards, regulatory boards and millers, indicate that there has been little to show for the increased allocation of the subsidy, with some experts calling for an overhaul of the programme.
The Government estimates that 486,426 tonnes of the subsidised fertiliser have been distributed to farmers, a situation that has seen prices stabilise.
Diammonium Phosphate (DAP), for instance, is being sold at Sh3,000 from the previous 6,000 per 50kg bag, according to the State.
The Government buys and distributes the fertiliser to farmers across the country through the National Cereals and Produce Board depots.
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Smallholder farmers, however, have complained that they never get the subsidised fertiliser, with most of them forced to buy the input at market price.
The Agriculture ministry has in the past said it suspects brokers buy it and then resell it at prices slightly lower than the market value, defeating the objective of the input.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri early this year promised to deal with cartels diverting the subsidised fertiliser to the market.
The cartels were accused of buying the cheap fertiliser meant for farmers and repackaging it for sale at market prices.
“We are not going to condone stealing of resources that are meant for genuine farmers. They will be arrested and arraigned in court. It will no longer be business as usual in this ministry,” said Kiunjuri.
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Tegemeo Institute, a policy think-tank, in a household survey, found that yields were still low despite use of the fertiliser.
The institute in the survey found that one of the challenges farmers face with regard to accessing the cheap fertiliser included farmers incurring high transportation costs the NCPB depots are situated far from their farms.
It also cited diversion of the fertiliser and adulteration as some of the reasons for low yields.
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