Farmers desperate as NCPB runs out of topdressing fertiliser

Maize planting on a farm in Njoro, Nakuru County, April 17, 2024. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Maize farmers in Trans Nzoia county are frustrated following a shortage of top-dressing fertiliser.

Long queues have been witnessed outside the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots in Kitale town as desperate farmers jostle for available stocks.

Paul Sakong', a farmer from Saboti constituency said the wait has been long and frustrating.

Mr Sakong' said the crop was at the top dressing stage but he has not been able to get the right fertiliser.

"I've been camping here for over two weeks. Despite paying for the fertiliser and having an e-voucher, I still haven't received it," he told The Standard.

"The maize will soon be overgrown before top dressing," he added.

The frustrated farmer said: "They seem to be able to pay and get the fertiliser, leaving us struggling farmers empty-handed."

Isaac Nyakundi, a farmer from Cherang'any said he has been visiting the NCPB depot for the last three weeks. He paid for ten bags of CAN topdressing fertiliser

"The transport cost is too high and this is making my farming expensive," he lamented. 

"The ideal window for top dressing is between 25-30 days after sowing, followed by another application 20-25 days later. With weeds emerging alongside the maize, competing for nutrients, the delay is concerning," said Nyakundi.

Peter Kihara said, "I spent the past week commuting daily, spending Sh500 on transport just for two bags of fertiliser," he said.  

"The cost is already equivalent to a whole bag," he said fearing the impact this could have on his harvest.

Kihara emphasized the importance of proper timing for optimal yields and water efficiency. "The government needs to intervene and help us," he said.

NCPB management has acknowledged the high demand for fertiliser and assured farmers of more supplies. "Supply will be enhanced starting Monday." 

"Every registered and paid-up farmer will receive their top dressing fertiliser," said NCPB.