News and knowhow for farmers

President announces Sh2,500 fertiliser price, outlines bright future for agriculture

President William Ruto today announced the commencement of the second phase of the government’s agriculture subsidy program with the price of a 50-kilogram bag of fertliser now retailing at Sh2,500 down from Sh3,500.

He pointed out that yesterday, Tuesday, a record 34,000 bags of this subsidised fertiliser was sold to farmers. For the coming short rains beginning next month to December, the state plans on delivering two million 50 Kg bags of fertiliser.  He further announced that in partnership with county governments, 50 new distribution centers will be opened across the country to provide last-mile delivery of fertiliser to farmers.

The government is also planning to purchase 100 driers which will be strategically distributed to National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots to serve maize and cereal farmers at subsidised and highly affordable rates. This will half the cost of drying cereals avoiding post-harvest losses.

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“The importation of food items and expenditure on subsidies, including duty waivers, were depleting our foreign exchange and exerting severe budgetary pressure without attacking the fundamental problem of agriculture productivity. I have therefore retired the prevailing policy of subsidising consumption in favor of subsidising production,” he said during his speech at the statehouse.

In his first year in office, this change of tact has already sprouted green shoots. 

Kenya produced 40 million bags of maize in 2019 and 2021. The country is predicted to harvest 44 million bags of maize for this year’s long rains period, compared to last year’s 32 million bags. From this year to 2027, the state targets an annual production of 61 million bags of maize.

“The total amount spent so far on the fertiliser subsidy program is a small fraction of the annual cost of consumption subsidies and yet its impact has been tremendous. Thanks to better rains this year than previous seasons, the dedication of our farmers, and effectively administered strategic interventions, we are definitely on course to meet national maize demand in full this year,” the president informed. 

Terming the fertiliser subsidy as a game-changer for agricultural productivity, he encouraged farmers to redouble the use of fertilser per acre to increase agricultural production in the coming planting season.

“In the long rains just passed, most farmers used one bag of fertiliser per acre, getting just 12 to 15 bags of maize an acre. According to scientific data and personal experience from my own farm, when you double the use of fertiliser there is a direct correlation to production. With the new subsidy, farmers can easily double the fertiliser per acre and harvest between 20 to 25 bags per acre. This will immediately double the country’s production and we can get rid of shortages and high food prices in our country,” Ruto said. 

For the first time in the country’s history, the preident observed, farmes we’re being provided with fertiliser whose formulation was customised to feed crops with their specific requirements of elements and address local soil nutrient composition. Thanks to last-mile logistics and technology, enhanced through effective partnerships with county governments and as a result of county and community-made warehouses and stores serving farmers efficiently and as close to them as possible, it is also the first time that fertiliser has been delivered directly to farmers on the basis of land acreage and crop production capacity. 

“We collaborated with Safaricom to develop and deploy the fertiliser E-voucher system to administer the fertiliser subsidy transparently, accurately, and efficiently. By cutting out brokers, middlemen, and other intermediaries we have eradicated corruption from the program concentrating maximum benefits to farmers.” The crops targeted by this voucher program are maize, coffee, sugarcane, potatoes, rice, tea, cotton, edible oil, and tomatoes.

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Its been more than a decade, the president opined, since fertiliser reached farmers in time to prepare for planting. The government delivered two million 50-kilogram bags of fertiliser to farmers last season. Similarly, since the onset of the long rains this year it has delivered 3,536,162 bags of crop-specific, region-specific fertiliser to farmers in 41 counties and in the process registered over five million farmers as well as issued 3,628, 512 E-vouchers and established a last mile distribution network.

“Because arable land in Kenya is limited and our population has increased over the years, the only way to increase agricultural productivity is through the use of high-quality inputs, in particular fertiliser, which significantly increases crop yields in the same area of land, use of mechanisation in agriculture and government support for farmers to be able to produce,” the president noted.

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