Farmers in the Kenya’s Rift Valley region have expressed fears that the delay in the arrival of fertilizer will affect food production in the country.
Grain growers, a bulk of who are small scale farmers were expecting the consignment of assorted fertilizer to have reached them a fortnight ago – in readiness for the long rains – but the interruption in shipment, farmers now say, has delayed planting in the region.
“There’s a lot of anxiety with farmers and we are now agitated, the fertilizer is not forthcoming and time is running out. Rains have already started but most of us are not ready,” lamented one angry farmer.
Meteorological department had predicted that some parts of the country would experience scarce rains this cropping season, and most farmers had hoped to have started planting by now but are yet to commence owing to the lack of the commodity.
Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) Director Kipkorir Menjo however confirmed that a consignment of more than 39,000 metric tonnes (MT) of assorted fertilizer has already docked at the Port of Mombasa, but logistical issues has prompted a further delay in the disbursements to farmers.
“We have been assured that the ship has docked and they are discharging its cargo which hopefully should be here in the coming few days,” said Menjo.
The government has an ongoing arrangement with farmers and had released Sh3billion for the importation of subsidized fertilizer which is yet to arrive or distributed to farmers – and had promised to deliver the inputs through National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) at Sh1, 800 per 50 kilogram bag.
Despite KFA’s pleas to the government and ministries of Agriculture to urgently expedite the importation process of the fertilizer subsidy, farmers have not received the inputs – who were banking on the government subsidy for this planting season
The association however said yesterday that it has received government’s validation that the region will be supplied with the inputs by Thursday.
The government blamed the interruption on the delay of the ship and the fact that the ministry still had no Cabinet Secretary in place.
He said the situation has affected most farmers both on large scale and small scale farmers and poses serious threat to the country’s food production and is likely to impact negatively on the overall out-put.
Menjo did not however, rule out on the possibility that the delays were deliberate from some top powerful officials in the government who he said have interests in the sector and are out to ‘frustrate farmers’ for their selfish gains.
“On one hand it is the laxity from the side of the government – there have been issues and crisis in terms of shipping to buying and selling of maize.
On the other hand there are people who are aware of these impacts and I think they are people who just want to frustrate farmers so that they create room for them to import maize themselves,” he said.
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