2 April 2013

Kenya: Bureaucracy Hurting Farm Inputs Supply

Nairobi — Stakeholders in the agricultural sector want the government to involve the private sector in the supply of farm inputs to small scale farmers through a new supply chain system.

Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC) CEO Gerald Masila said this would reduce delays and corruption involved in the purchase and distribution of seeds and fertilizer to farmers.

Citing the recent delay in distributing subsidised fertilizer, Masila said the problem cannot be solved if the government continues to solely depend on the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).

"Subsidised fertilizer is a good thing and if well managed it will work. But we feel that the process should be run through the private sector. It has happened in other parts of the world and I believe it's possible here," Masila said.

The new system, he said, will also address the issue of numerous cases of supply of fake seeds and fertilizers which has also remained a menace to farmers.

"Everything needs to be credible. If a farmer receives a seed which has a problem, we should be able - through a proper integrated supply chain system - to trace back and avoid blame game and guess work," Masila emphasised, "without traceability, the small scale farmer will continue to lose."

Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) President Philip Kiriro said an overhaul of the supply system will increase the engagement between the farmers and the government and improve transparency.

"The rains are here and the process that gets that bag of fertilizer to the farmer is so long. It gets to a point where as a farmer I wonder whether it is really worth it. I would say this is like subject to abuse," Kiriro complained adding that NCPB does not have "the business approach but rather a service approach."

NCPB kicked off the supply of fertilizers this week after a long delay due to a disputed Sh500 million debt arising from an earlier cancelled maize supply tender.

However, NCBP has already received 200,000 bags of fertilizer after President Mwai Kibaki intervention last month when he ordered Treasury to release Sh2.7 billion for the purchase of the crucial commodity.

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