Farmers cry foul over fertilizer subsidy even as roll out begins

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By Rogers Aghan, February 7, 2023, The North Rift part already has their farmers purchasing fertilizers at Sh3, 500 for a 50 kg bag.

Cabinet secretary of Agriculture, Mithika Linturi confirmed that farmers in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, and Trans Nzoia County have started purchasing subsidized fertilizer.

The Cabinet Secretary reiterated that the subsidy goes for Sh3,500 per bag via the e-voucher system but the ministry intends to import cheaper fertilizer from the nation’s neighboring country, Tanzania.

The CS was in Dodoma, Tanzania on Friday here he stopped at the recently introduced intra-com fertilizer production firm said to be a prospective player in lowering cost of crop production.

The cost of fertilizer had hit an all-time high record selling at Sh6,500 per bag.

“We are looking for ways to cushion farmers and help bring down the cost of fertilizer to less than Sh3,000 per bag,” said the Cabinet Secretary.

Linturi expressed his concerns during the launch of the Kenya Integrated Agriculture Management Information System (AKIAMIS) phase II.

However, some farmers in the North Rift region have complained that the quantity of the fertilizers as compared to what they requested is sub-standard.

One of the farmers mentioned that he received 17 bags of fertilizers whereas he had ordered 200 bags.

According to a senior government person, the packaged subsidy fertilizer being distributed contains less of DAP content. This comes after discouragement by the government regarding the use of DAP fertilizer due to its depleting effect on the soil.

During the launch of the KIAMIS phase II, Linturi commented on the plans that are underway concerning the re-introduction of extension services.

The CS said this will be fostered through the KIAMIS digital platform which will enhance data organization by the government hence encouraging farmer support services.

He thought that in order to facilitate the help services digitization and data reliance in the agricultural sector, the ministry could partner with FAO to develop and implement the Kenya integrated Agriculture Management Information System (KIAMIS).

This will be done through the help of the grant offered to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Department by the Swedish government totaling $5.2 million.

“Once completed, the KIAMIS components will enable us to do other things including Farmers Credit Management scheme, food security data collection and data sharing, e-extension services, and expanded mechanization among others,” said the CS.

The cabinet secretary noted that the foremost challenge faced by the ministry in implementing government subsidies and relevant support programs to farmers was a lack of extensive registration of farmers.

He said there has been a bid to take note of the registration process via government programs and efforts by the participating counties.

“But recently, when the government wanted to launch the new national fertilizer subsidy programme, we had a list of only 1.3 million validated farmers available, in a country with 6.4 million farmers,” said the Cabinet secretary.

Linturi reiterated that in order to fight this challenge, the government recently introduced rapid national farmer’s registration protocols through the National Government Administration.

This move has since seen the registration of 4.2 million farmers as opposed to the initial 1.6 million who had been registered.

“But, while this rapid registration is helping us to fast-track the implementation of the new national fertilizer subsidy this year, the established list of farmers is not complete since it covers only crop farmers. Furthermore, the rapid nature of this registration and use of village elders to identify the farmers and validate the existing farms is bound to have some gaps,” he said.

The CS said he intends to assess the use of KIAMIS by his ministry to digitize various farmer support services and also ascertain collection and distribution of data thus supporting policy and decision making.

The KIAMIS project kicked off in 2019 with the development and testing of an organized, national farmer’s registration system.

The system has been assessed and the Ministry has used it to register farmers in Uasin Gishu and Nyandarua while implementing fertilizer subsidy on pilot basis within these counties.

Tags: #Agriculture, #Farmer Registration, #Farmers, #Ministry of Agriculture, #Mithika Linturi, #Nyandarua county #Trans Nzoia county, #Small-scale farmers, #Sustainable Agriculture, #Uasin Gishu County

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