DOMINANT: A maize plantation at Ndalu in Trans Nzoia County.
The government will this month import 100,000 tonnes an equivalent of two million bags of fertilizer for use by farmers this year. It is expected to arrive this month ahead of the planting season which usually starts at the end of February in most areas especially within the maize growing regions in Rift Valley.
Governors in the region have requested the government to make early importations so that farmers do not face shortages like was the case last year.
"We want the consignments to arrive very early so that farmers can produce more food this year," said Uasin Gishu governor Jackson Mandago. He said said they are discussing with the government plans to establish a fertliser factory in the country to help reduce the high import cost.
"This will help to cut the cost of fertiliser by more than half," said Mandago. The fertiliser being imported includes mostly DAP which is usually used by farmers for planting maize and wheat among other crops.
It will be imported by the Ministry of Agriculture and sold out to farmers through the National Cereals and Produce Board. Farmers in Trans Nzoia have however complained that the use of DAP fertiliser has reduced soil fertility in the region to less than 30 per cent.
Governor Patrick Khaemba said they want researchers to come up with new fertiliser varieties that will help to reverse decline in soil fertility in the region which gas greatly affected production.
"We have to look for an alternative and the government must intervene because the country's food security is at risk," said Khaemba. Some farmers in parts of the North Rift region have been turning to the use of organic fertilizer to restore soil fertility as maize production has dropped by more than 25 bags per acre to less than 10 bags in many areas over the years due to continued use of chemical fertilisers.
Rutuba organic fertiliser is one of the varieties which farmers are using in the region. A factory has been set up in Kitale to produce Rutuba rrganic fertilizer.
Khaemba said they have carried out soil tests in the region and discovered that the soil acidity has gone up due to continued use of DAP and other chemicals.