Ruto Sh7.4 billion fertiliser subsidy was ill-timed, says Gathungu

Auditor General says the intention of the subsidy may not have been achieved.

In Summary
  • Auditor says the fertliser was distributed to farmers after planting time.
  • Ruto had directed distribution of e-fertilizer to farmers as a step to address high cost of living.
Auditor General Nancy Gathungu
Auditor General Nancy Gathungu
Image: FILE

The Auditor General has flagged President William Ruto’s Sh7.4 billion fertiliser programme that was envisioned to address food insecurity.

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu, in a brief to the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), faults the intervention as ill-timed as its rollout was not in time for planting.

The findings are contained in a summary of the special audit that the Office of the Auditor General is undertaking.

Gathungu argues that the distribution of the subsidised fertiliser was done when farmers had planted.

“The government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock development, launched the fertilisers e-subsidy programme in September 2022,” the report reads.

“The National Treasury approved Sh7,493,923, 200 for the programme. Although the fertiliser had been distributed to farmers, the programme may not have achieved its intended objective as the distribution of the fertiliser was not in time for the planting season.”

Ruto, upon assuming power in 2022, directed distribution of fertiliser to farmers.

The government spent Sh7.4 billion for the stopgap measure.

In his inauguration speech on September 13, 2022, Ruto directed that 1.4 million bags of fertiliser be availed to farmers at a maximum subsidised price of Sh3,500 per 50kg bag, down from Sh6,500.

“Our priority intervention therefore, is to make fertiliser, good quality seeds and other agricultural inputs affordable and available,” Ruto said. 

This was part of the government’s interventions to address the high cost of living.

But Gathungu has said the objective of the programme was not achieved.

The subsidised fertilisers was to be availed through the National Cereals and Produce Board depots and subdepots countrywide, effective September 19, 2022.

Individual farmers were entitled to a maximum of 100 bags of the farm input.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture documents, a 50kg bag of DAP was to sell at Sh3,500, CAN at Sh2,875, urea at Sh3,500, NPK at Sh3,275, MOP at Sh1,775 and sulphate of ammonia at Sh2,220.

During his State of the Nation Address in Parliament, Ruto defended the fertiliser subsidy, saying the programme has helped raise maize production.

The President said a 2kg packet of maize flour is now selling at Sh145 and a high of Sh175, depending on the brand, down from Sh250.

“The famous gorogoro [2kg tin of maize] is now selling between Sh60 to Sh75… honourable members you know how much it cost,” he said in Parliament on November 9.

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star