Maize production may drop this year due to high costs of farm inputs including fertilizer and seeds, experts in the agricultural sector have warned.
However the farmers have a reprieve after the government unveiled a new chemical costing Sh 300 million to fight a new maize disease which has hit parts of the country especially in the Rift Valley region since last year.
The farmers produced more than 40 million bags last year but the overall costs of farming have gone up by 30 percent causing many farmers to cut down on the acreage which they plan to use for maize production.
Cereals Growers Association (CGA) says the increased prices of diesel, petrol and other chemicals used on farms was a major discouragement to farmers.
"By now many farmers are supposed to have prepared their farms, the fertilizer is supposed to be available but we are seeing total confusion in the sector," said CGA official Sila Tiren who is also MP elect for Moiben in Uasin Gishu County.
The government has failed to import subsidized fertilizer for use by farmers causing prices of the commodity to up by more than 30 percent in the open markets.
A 50 Kg bag of DAP used for planting is now selling at Sh 3,400 up from Sh 2,500 which is price of subsidized fertilizer usually supplied by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).
The board is unable to import the fertilizer due to a debt dispute which caused auctioneers to attach the firm's bank accounts.
Kenya Seed Company (KSC) Managing Director Willy Bett says the new chemical will help to control spread of the Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN) disease which threatens to drastically reduce maize production in the country.
The introduction of the chemical known as Caberderzine is part of the cause for increased prices of maize seeds. The Chemical will protect maize crops for a period of more six month.
The disease affected mainly farms in the South Rift region but it has been spreading in many parts of the country. It causes maize crops to turn yellow and dry.
MPs elect from the North Rift region met with farmers in Eldoret and protested over increased prices of maize seeds and fertilizer ahead of the planting season.
The MPs also met with officials from the KSC and NCPB to discus the prices.
Governor elect for Uasin Gishu Jackson Mandago along with Director of the Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) Kipkorior Menjo were also present during the meeting at the KFA depot.