4 February 2013

Kenya: Sh2 Billion in Fertilizer to Arrive This Month

Fertilizer worthy more than Sh2 billion will arrive in the country this month for use by farmers during the planting season.The National Cereals and Produce Board says the consignment of one million bags will be available to farmers for use as they start planting next month.

"It will be arriving shortly and farmers should be assured that they will have adequate fertilizer this year," said NCPB spokesman Evans Wasike.

However, the board already has more than 800,000 bags of fertilizer at its depots in parts of the country and farmers are purchasing the commodity ahead of the planting season. The consignment being imported include both DAP for planting and CAN for top dressing.

Late last year, the board announced a cut in prices of fertilizer as part of the measures to cut costs of farming and increase food production next year.A 50 Kg bag of DAP fertilizer for planting which has been selling at Sh2, 500 will this year go for Sh2,480 at the NCPB.

CAN fertilizer for top dressing will now be sold at Sh1,500 per 50 Kg bag down from Sh1,600. The board says it had made early arrangements for the fertilizer importation to avoid shortages when farmers start planting soon.

The Kenya Farmers Association through Director Kipkorir Menjo has lauded NCPB's strategy to import fertilizer early enough.

"Such moves will definitely impact positively on food production and that is why we have been pushing the government to allocate enough money to the NCPB", said Menjo. He said the fertilizer should be distributed to all parts of the country so that farmers can access it easily.

The board has so far used more than Sh10 billion to supply subsidized fertilizer to famers in the last five years and Wasike said the plan had helped to increase food production especially maize in the country.

Last year, the board estimated that farmers harvested more than 40 million bags and the government allocated only Sh1.6 billion to NCPB to buy part of the maize for Strategic Grain Reserves.

The board has since exhausted the cash and stopped purchasing maize from farmers causing prices of the commodity to drop in most parts of the region. Middlemen also took advantage of the situation and bought maize from farmers at cheaper prices.

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