- According to the NCPB, so far over 400,000 of 50kg bags of subsidised fertiliser have been distributed to farmers in the North Rift region.
- Farmers have been accessing the fertiliser at NCPB depots at a cost of Sh3,500 per 50kg bag through the e-voucher system.
Farmers are preparing their land in readiness for planting, which traditionally starts a week before or after March 15 every year.
Former Water Chief Administrative Secretary Andrew Tuimur has advised farmers to invest in small household water pans to enable them harvest some water when the rains come.
“Drought has been a major challenge that has adversely affected agricultural productivity. Due to this, there is a need to invest and develop water infrastructure such as small dams or water pans for irrigation, livestock and household use,” Tuimur said.
He said so far, there are more than 25, 000 household water pans which have benefited farmers with water for irrigation.
The former CAS said that investing in food storage infrastructure is also critical to support the storage of food not only in the bread basket areas, but also in other parts of the country.
“The storage facilities can be used to store both food after harvests and livestock feed like hay. This will cushion Kenyans against food insecurity incase the March-April-May rains are poor. It will also help in reducing post-harvest losses,” Tuimur said.
Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo said land preparations are ongoing and the flow of the subsidy fertiliser has been smooth.
According to the National Cereals and Produce Board, so far more than 400,000 of 50kg bags of subsidised fertiliser have been distributed to farmers in the North Rift region.
Farmers have been accessing the fertiliser at NCPB depots at a cost of Sh3,500 per 50kg bag through the e-voucher system, while the market prices have remained at a high of between Sh5,000 and Sh6,000 per bag.
Menjo however said that despite the cost of the subsidised fertiliser being cheaper than what is being offered in the market, some farmers are wary of the quality of the commodity.
He said the government should give the farmer a free hand in buying fertiliser from any nearby licensed agro dealer.
“The agro dealers have been selling products which have undergone quality control and are constantly monitored. The subsidy fertiliser tends not to be subjected to thorough quality control," Menjo said.
"There is a planting season where farmers suffered huge losses after using poor quality fertiliser. After that incident, some farmers trust what the agro dealers sell.”
The director said going forward, the government should allow the private sector to play its role selling the subsided fertiliser as it was initially envisaged.
Currently, the subsidy fertiliser is being distributed by NCPB, Kenya National Trading Corporation and other state agencies, which Menjo said this is killing the players in the industry.
“Let players in the industry do their job as the government issues e-vouchers to the farmers. The farmers should then be allowed to pick fertiliser from a nearby licensed agro dealer who will then claim from the government," he said.
"That way, you will ensure the quality is guaranteed and this will also allow the private sector to thrive as the government remains a regulator.”