BY KIPCHUMBA KEMEI
An acute shortage of fertiliser has affected wheat farming in Narok, a survey has shown.
The situation if not tackled, according to farmers, will compromise this season’s yield.
Wheat farmers accused the Government of reneging on earlier promise that it would stock enough subsidised fertiliser to ensure planting activities went on unhindered.
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"The shortage will affect this year’s yields. We are already late by almost a month," said their spokesperson John Ololchoki, Thursday.
He said it was disturbing that while they were talking about the shortage, the commodity was being sold in towns bordering Narok like Bomet, Kericho and Sotik where farmers do not need them.
The area is the largest wheat producer in the country. In the 2006-2009 season, it produced more than 28.6 million bags, with farmers earning about Sh560 million.
Due to good rains, farmers in the area have expanded land under the crop from about 60,000 to about 80,000 hectares.
The farmers accused Agriculture Minister William Ruto of failing them during his tenure in office, charging that he had promised them a raft of measures aimed at improving their welfare including availing subsidized fertilizers at all National Cereals and Produced Board but none had been fulfilled.
"He promised that the board would buy our produce at good prices to cushion us against exploitation by millers, rehabilitate the dilapidated Enengetia NCPB depot which was closed in 1997 among others but not even one has been fulfilled," they said.
They also claimed that accessing loans through the Agricultural Finance Corporation had in the last three seasons been cumbersome and wondered why stringent measures were being put on them before being given loans yet they have never failed to service them.
Last February, agriculture assistant minister Gideon Ndambuki announced that the Government would avail Sh1 billion for AFC to loan farmers in the country this planting season.
A survey by The Standard in the wheat belt of both lower and upper Narok indicates that shortage of fertilizers and certified seeds was hampering planting activities, forcing some farmers to suspend seed bed preparation.
The survey in most farm inputs outlets including the town NCPB depot also revealed a shortage of all types of fertilizers with available 50 kg bag of Diamonium phosphate-DAP, retailing at between Sh3, 700 and 4, 100 up from Sh2, 500 in the last planting season. END.