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January 20, 2019

Scrap fertiliser subsidies, improve farmer extension

Farmers who have paid for the fertiliser looking for their names at Cereals notice board in Kitale./PHOTO/NICHOLAS WAMALWA.
Farmers who have paid for the fertiliser looking for their names at Cereals notice board in Kitale./PHOTO/NICHOLAS WAMALWA.

Government has not yet ordered subsidised fertiliser and the planting season in Rift Valley is only a month away. Farmers don't know whether to start ploughing or not.

A fundamental rethink is needed about subsidised fertiliser. Every year the fertiliser comes late because government has cash flow problems.

The saving to the farmer is decent but not massive. A bag of fertiliser costs around Sh3,500 on the open market but around Sh2,800 from NCPB - a 20 percent saving.

How can we minimise the costs of inputs for farmers but also maximise their earnings? 

Government should allow fertiliser to be imported duty free so that the open market price becomes more affordable. That will help farmers.

And then government should stop funding National Cereals and Produce Board to buy maize at above the open market price. The NCPB buys less than 10 percent of total annual maize production of over 40 million bags. This only helps a privileged minority of farmers.

And what should we do with the Sh8 billion that the government will save annually by not subsidising fertiliser sale and maize purchase? Spend it on improved extension services so farmers become more productive and profitable.

 

Quote of the day: "Boxing is the only sport you can get your brain shook, your money took and your name in the undertaker book." - Joe Frazier - The American heavyweight champion was born on 12 January, 1944

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