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Farmers in Rift Valley worried over fertiliser shortage

CS Munya set to tour region ahead of planting season over declining food production

In Summary
  • Farmers want Agriculture CS Peter Munya to intervene to avert a further drop in maize production this year
  • Maize production dropped from more than 44 million bags in 2018 to less than 34 million bags last year
Agriculture CS Peter Munya when he visited the New KCC factory in Eldoret on November 10, 2019
PRODUCTION: Agriculture CS Peter Munya when he visited the New KCC factory in Eldoret on November 10, 2019
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

Farmers in the Rift Valley are worried over possible shortage of fertiliser less than a month to the start of the planting season.

They want Agriculture CS Peter Munya to intervene to avert a further drop in maize production this year.

 Last week, Munya called off his first major visit to the North Rift region to meet with the maize farmers and address challenges they are facing leading to declining food production.

 

The meeting was called off following the death of retired President Moi but it has now been tentatively set for next week.

Munya will encounter farmers who are anxious over possible fertiliser shortage in the county’s bead basket.

The CS will also meet with county governors and farmers' representatives in Eldoret. He will also visit the National Cereals and Produce Baord (NCPB) depots.

“We are set to meet the CS as had been planned earlier so that we discus with him some of the key issues that we want tackled in the sector to reverse the declining trend in food production,” the director of the Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) Kipkorir Menjo said.

Moiben MP Silas Tiren confirmed they will meet with the CS as leaders from the region over issues affecting the agriculture sector.

Last year, maize production dropped from more than 44 million bags in 2018 to less than 34 million bags. There are fears there may be an acute shortage of maize in the county mid this year.

Munya will also deal with issues affecting dairy farmers. President Kenyatta last month gave New KCC Sh500 million to buy excess milk from farmers and turn it into powder.

Currently, the maize prices remain high at more than Sh3,200 per 90kg bag.

Munya’s visit comes at a time when the government has delayed to roll out a plan to introduce e-vouchers that will enable farmers to buy subsidized fertiliser from private suppliers and importers.

Farmers and MPs in the Rift Valley region have expressed fear of possible shortage of fertilizer and high prices of the commodity this year.

“Fertilizer is a key farm input and we are now worried that the government seems to have no clear plan to supply the subsidised fertiliser to farmers, a situation which will expose them to exploitation  by private dealers,” Mosop MP Vincent Tuwei said.

Cheranganyi MP Joshua Kuttuny and Tiren have urged Munya to move quickly and deal with farmers' concerns about fertiliser.

“He should give out clear communication to the farmers quite early because the farmers have to plan well so that we do not have high costs of farm inputs leading to reduced food production,” Kuttuny said.

The e-vouchers system has been introduced to curb corruption and enable farmers access quality fertiliser from the market.

NCPB had previously been handling the subsidised fertiliser for the government but complaints of corruption in distribution caused the state to devise what it said was an alternative and more efficient system.

Farmers accused NCPB staff and traders of  colluding to divert and repackage the subsidised fertiliser after which they sold it at market prices thus denying the producers a chance to benefit from the subisidies.

Under the new plan, registered farmers will get the  e-vouchers from agriculture offices in their counties and redeem them from suppliers dealing in the commodity anywhere in the market.

“This plan will enable farmers to easily access the commodity from dealers near them but the delay in rolling out the e-vouchers is now a major concern to farmers,” KFA director Menjo said.

Farmers in high maize and wheat producing counties like Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Nandi and Elgeyo Marakwet require mostly DAP fertiliser for planting and CAN for top dressing.

Except for the last one year, the government has been using more than Sh4 billion annually to provide subsidised fertiliser through the NCPB.