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Government releases over Sh400 million fertiliser subsidy to small holder tea farmers

FINANCIAL STANDARD
By Standard Reporter | February 11th 2015

NAIROBI, KENYA: The Government has disbursed Sh442.31 million fertilizer subsidy to small scale tea farmers under the management of  Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) to cushion them from the high costs of farm inputs. 

The tea farmers will receive a Sh321.35 rebate on each bag of fertilizer supplied under the KTDA fertilizer credit scheme. 

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei launched the subsidy scheme at Kambaa Tea Factory in Kiambu County,  where he appealed to tea farmers to diversify their businesses beyond tea. 

“Let us not be emotional and threaten to uproot the tea we have invested so much energy and time to grow simply because of low tea prices in one year.  If prices shoot up and you have uprooted your crop what will you do?” he paused. 

The Cabinet Secretary observed that tea auction prices were slowly on the rise and coupled with the measures the Government plans to implement such as the setting up of the stabilisation fund and fertilizer subsidy, farmers should be able to profit from the crop. 

He cautioned tea farmers against over reliance on one income source as it was bound to strain their income and advised them to diversify to other income generating activities like rearing livestock among others so as to realise better profit margins. 

“Farmers must consider diversification, so as to have multiple income sources. In so doing, they will be able to remain financially stable even when tea prices are not doing so well,” said Mr Koskei. 

Mr. Koskei said that the tea industry has over the last three years suffered major challenges such as decline in tea prices, high labor costs and farm inputs which have left farmers heavily overburdened. 

The CS assured tea farmers that the Government was making a deliberate effort to work with various stakeholders in the industry including KTDA to improve the situation as agriculture remained the backbone of the economy. 

Adding that the start of the fertilizer subsidy was geared towards reducing the cost of production. 

While lauding the initiative, KTDA Chairman Mr Peter Kanyago commended President Uhuru Kenyatta for making good his promise of assisting farmers to be able to afford  fertilizer in order to increase tea volumes. 

“As KTDA we appreciate the fertilizer subsidy on behalf of the farmers and pledge to continue working with the Government to improve small scale tea farming in the country,” Kanyago said. 

Kanyago said KTDA was working in collaboration with the Government to identify other markets in Asia, America and the rest of Africa to sell Kenyan teas. 

“We are also looking forward  to the establishment of the stabilisation fund as a means to cushion farmers when prices are very low,” said Kanyago.

The Chairman urged the Government to continue with the fertilizer subsidy initiative as it will enable tea farmers benefit from their crops. 

Also present were the Agriculture Principal Secretary, Ms. Sicily Kariuki, KTDA CEO, Mr. Lerionka Tiampati and the Presidential Advisor on Agriculture Dr.James Nyoro.

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