Kenya: KEBS Blamed for Exposing Farmers to Sub-Standard Fertilizer

Nairobi — Senators are accusing the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) of dropping their guard and exposing farmers to sub-standard fertilisers.

Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee alluded that KEBS has failed Kenyans following details that the agency didn't authenticate fertilizer under the National Government fertilizer subsidy programme since 2022.

The Bureau's Managing Director Esther Ngari revealed that the agency was not involved or consulted in the government subsidy program.

"I want to clarify that KEBS was not involved in the procurement, distribution or even testing of fertilizer under the government subsidy program. The process was managed by other designated government agencies," Ngari submitted.

Irked by the sentiments, Senators accused KEBS of laxity and incompetency insisting they exposed farmers to sub-standard fertilizer.

"So what you are telling this committee is that there is a possibility that all the fertiliser supplied to farmers under the program could have been fake since you did not have the opportunity to inspect them?" posed committee chair James Murango.

Kitui MP Enock Wambua alluded to hatched plan between suppliers and top government officials to hoodwink farmers by merchandising fake fertilizer.

"From where I sit, this conspiracy runs deeper than we think. At some point, we shall be apportioning blame on all agencies involved. What part of the blame is KEBS willing to bear?" questioned Wambua.

KEBS MD Esther Ngari disclosed he was not aware of fake fertilizer in the market, saying the got wind on the issue receiving a tip off from a farmer through social media.

"The documents provided to the procurement agency showing that we had okayed the manufacture of fake fertilizer did not originate from us. We did not certify the flagged fertilizer. No such request came from us," she said.

Makueni Senator Dan Maanzo questioned why the fertilizer distributed had the mark of KEBS yet they claimed not to have certified the product.

"Is it not your duty to inspect the quality of fertilizer before the same is distributed to farmers? It is very strange that the bags which were later found to contain fake or substandard fertilizer had your symbol," said Maanzo.

KEBS blamed other government institutions including the National Produce and Cereals Board (NCPB) for not involving them in ascertaining the quality of goods.

"Our proactive approach swiftly revealed that the GPC PLUS organic fertilizer was neither certified by KEBS nor included in the government subsidy program, underscoring the risks posed by unverified products in the market," Ngari said.

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