Linturi urges tea farmers to apply more fertilizer to boost yields

Agriculture and Livestock Development Cabinet Secretary, Mithika Linturi during the flagging off of a consignment to upcountry at the port of Mombasa

The government has urged small-scale tea farmers to double the use of fertilizers to boost their production, as it has subsidized the prices of the input.

This comes after the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) imported 45,000 metric tons, or 900,000 bags, of fertilizer for distribution to 650,000 smallholder tea farmers across the country on Thursday, December 21.

The Agriculture and Livestock Development Cabinet Secretary, Mithika Linturi, flagged off the consignment to upcountry at the port of Mombasa and announced that the farmers will be able to access the fertilizer at tea buying centres starting Monday next week.

Linturi said that applying more fertilizer would increase the tea yields and lower the cost of production, as there was a direct correlation between the two factors.

He said that the government was offering the fertilizer at a subsidized price of Sh2,500 per bag, down from Sh3,500 last year, to help the farmers produce more tea and earn more income.

“By giving out fertilizer, the government will help farmers increase productivity. We are asking farmers to take advantage of the government subsidy and buy enough fertilizer since a bag now goes for Sh2500,” he said.

He added that the government was also working on tea reforms to come up with legal policies and administrative mechanisms that would ensure the farmers get the best returns from their crop.

Linturi said that the government would continue to support KTDA and farmers to access fertilizers at affordable prices and also invest in value addition and processing facilities.

He said that in 2024, the government would distribute seven million bags of fertilizer to Kenyan farmers during the long and short rainy period as a way of giving back and appreciating their support for the government’s agenda of reducing the cost of living.

He also said that the Ministry had concluded the evaluation of tenders for the supply of other types of fertilizers for maize and potatoes and promised that there would be enough fertilizer for the second planting season by mid-February next year.

“We are also working on a mechanism with the county governments to ensure last-mile delivery is achieved through our collaboration, whereby we have told the governors to get warehouses and the ministry to provide the technical experts for the dispensation of fertilizer through the e-voucher system,” he said.

He further said that the government had several programmes in place to add value to the tea sector and had agreed to work with relevant stakeholders to provide resources for common user facilities that would enable farmers to sell finished products.

He said that the government was also prioritizing supporting KTDA and farmers’ factories to install processing lines that would produce orthodox tea, which fetches high premium prices in the global market.

“Worldwide, orthodox tea is fetching high premium prices, thus calling for investment on that line so that across the country there are many factories, which will in turn translate to good pricing for tea farmers,” he said.