Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi  (centre) inspects first batch of 70,000 bags at the National Cereals Produce Board depot in Nakuru County on January 31, 2024. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has initiated legal action against the company behind the fake fertiliser whose distribution to farmers has caused a national uproar.

The move by the quality regulatory body to sue KEL Chemicals follows the release of test results on all fertilisers being distributed under the subsidy programme showed that the fertiliser distributed by did not meet quality requirements.

Among the brands distributed between March 5 and 10, Kelphos Plus, Kelphos Gold, and NPK 10:26:10, were found to have not met all the required test parameters.

“Following release of test results by Kebs, the government has taken decisive action to safeguard the agricultural sector and farmers by announcing the immediate suspension of KEL Chemicals’ operations and seizure of its fertilizer products,” a statement from the ministry of Agriculture said. 

“In line with ensuring public safety and maintaining quality standards, Kebs has initiated legal action against KEL Chemicals for distributing substandard products as per the Standards Act Cap 496. This measure underscores the Government’s commitment to upholding stringent product quality and safety standards, ensuring accountability and safeguarding the agricultural sector and the wider public,” added the statement.

Farmers who have been acquired or possess the fertilizers from KEL Chemicals have been asked to immediately discontinue its use and to visit their nearest National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) facility for further guidance.

 The government reiterated its dedication to enforcing strict compliance with safety and quality standards for all fertilisers being availed to farmers and other products, to protect farmers from unscrupulous industry players and preserve the safety and quality of the food supply chain.

“This measure underscores the Government’s commitment to upholding stringent product quality and safety standards, ensuring accountability and safeguarding the agricultural sector and the wider public,” it said. 

 As the controversy over the distribution of the substandard fertilizers rages on, farmers are seeking answers on who is responsible and how the products were able to infiltrate the government’s subsidy program, potentially posing a risk to food security.

Both the National Assembly and Senate committees on Agriculture have separately summoned Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi, his Principal Secretary Paul Rono and CEOs of both Kebs and Kenya National Trading Corporation to shed more light on the fertiliser subsidy programme.

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