CS Kiunjuri: No Sh3.68 billion for subsidized fertilizer

Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri responds to the National Assembly Agriculture Committee queries on shortage of fertilizer in the country at Parliament on Monday 11/02/2019. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]
Maize farmers will have to purchase commercial fertiliser at Sh3,200 per 50kg bag after it emerged the Government failed to release money for the subsidised commodity.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri yesterday said Treasury under Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich was to blame for lack of cheap fertiliser this year.

Appearing before National Assembly Agriculture Committee, the CS said his ministry had requested for additional Sh3.68 billion for procurement of subsidised fertiliser but Treasury was yet to provide the funds.

He told the committee chaired by Mandera West MP Adan Haji that his ministry had planned to import at least 2.7 million 50kg bags of the input ahead of planting season that starts mid next month.

The revelation means the country could face acute food shortage in the coming months since many farmers are likely to plant without the farm input.

It also threatens the realisation of President Uhuru Kenyatta's Big Four agenda of food security.

Under the subsidy programme, farmers would have purchased a bag diammonium phosphate (DAP) at Sh1,800.

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Kiunjuri disclosed his ministry held a meeting with Treasury over the impasse, but failed to get the needed funds.

“Money must be made available in the IFMIS then get clearance from the Exchequer before we can advertise for the procurement of the subsidised fertiliser,” he told the MPs.

Consequently, the ministry has engaged dealers to ensure farmers get the commodity.

It has also ordered for 635,000 50kg local blends from Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) firms locally.

In the meeting, the dealers said they would only supply on condition the Government assured them it would not import subsidised fertiliser.

Their demand by the traders was informed by the fact that should the Government import subsidised fertiliser, they would suffer losses.

“The ministry invited the fertiliser importers/dealers in Kenya for deliberations on their preparedness for supplying fertiliser to farmers for the long rains,” he said.

“At the meeting, the companies confirmed they have capacity to supply enough fertiliser for the long rain season so long as they were assured that the Government was not importing and clearance at the port is fast-tracked,” he explained.

But MPs raised concerns that the market could be flooded by sub-standard fertiliser that would eventually affect quality and quantity of maize produce.

Kwanza MP Ferdinand Wanyoyi said the confusion was because the ministry had refused to hand over the mandate of procuring fertiliser to the National Cereals and Produce Board as recommended by the previous Parliament.

Raised concerns

A two-year contract the ministry entered with Export Trading Company Ltd for the importation of fertiliser lapsed on January 12 after Attorney General Paul Kihara raised concerns about it.

The ministry further defended strict vetting of farmers delivering maize at NCPB depots across the country.

The CS said the decision was meant to ensure only genuine farmers deliver their produce to the State agency following corruption scandal that rocked previous deliveries.

He said farmers have to present themselves before their respective ward agriculture officer and local chief.

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subsidised fertiliserMwangi KiunjuriHenry Rotich