Ruto troops take on state over skyrocketing fertiliser prices

Price of a 50kg bag of fertiliser now ranges from Sh4,000 to Sh5,000

In Summary
  • Murkomen says fertiliser prices have hit an all-time high because of lack of incentives by the government to cushion the farmers and stabilise prices.
  • Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei demands immediate summoning of Agriculture CS Peter Munya to explain the sharp increase on prices
A farmer goes in his maize plantation.
A farmer goes in his maize plantation.
Image: FILE

Deputy President William Ruto’s troops have led the pack in criticising the government for allegedly abandoning farmers and presiding over the skyrocketing of fertiliser prices.

They accused the Ministry of Agriculture of failing to provide incentives to stabilise fertiliser prices, a key product in maize farming, leading to a high cost of production.

They claimed the state has been playing politics with the farmers, especially those from the DP’s Rift Valley backyard, and was now keen on ‘inciting’ farmers against the local leaders.

“This government was elected by the people of Kenya to serve Kenyans. How come when an issue is touching maize farmers, it is turned to be a local problem to be resolved?” Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen posed.

Debating in the Senate chamber last week, the vocal senator, a Ruto confidant, said the government had abandoned farmers from the North Rift, including Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia.

“Is there another President for the North Rift? We want to be treated like any other part of the country in terms of protection of farmers," Murkomen said.

"We want the ministry to explain why despite the fact that they used to blame all these other people, now that they have a proper hold of the ministry itself, how come the fertiliser prices have gone higher instead of coming down?"

Murkomen said the prices of fertiliser have hit an all-time high because of a lack of incentives by the government to cushion the farmers and stabilise prices. The price, he said, has hit Sh5,000 for a 50kg bag, up from about Sh1,800.

"The people of Rift Valley are crying for the days of President Mwai Kibaki and William Ruto as his minister, when fertiliser prices were Sh1, 800," he said.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei demanded the immediate summoning of Agriculture CS Peter Munya to explain the sharp increase in prices.

“The CS should state why the government has failed to provide subsidies on fertiliser and other farm inputs thereby causing a rise in the cost of food production thus threatening to make farming an unprofitable venture,” Cherargei.

The senator wants Munya to explain the measures the ministry has put in place to stabilise the prices and lower the cost of production to ensure food security.

“He explains why the government has failed to cushion farmers during the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic period, which has impacted negatively on both farm-gate and market prices for agricultural produce,” he said.

Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, for her part, took a swipe at the government for suddenly withdrawing support for farmers whose produce feeds the nation.

“Over the years, fertiliser prices have shot up because there were no subsidies. I am also curious to know why the subsidies are no longer there and why that is not a government priority given the number of people who depend on agriculture,” she said.

“We want to know why the government has not made it a priority for its people. If that was the case for many years, we need to know why suddenly the government does not think that it is important,” she added.

But Senator Rose Nyamunga said the plight of farmers cannot be limited to specific regions in the country and called for a holistic approach to resolving the problem.

“I think that is one thing that touches all parts of this country,” she said.

The ODM-nominated lawmaker questioned why the government has not established a fertiliser production in the country to end the tedious process of importing the commodity.

“In the Rift Valley, I think we have what it takes for us to produce our organic fertiliser. It is not only about the price of fertiliser, but also the quality. For a long time, we have been getting very bad quality,” she added.

Edited by EKibii

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star