Assure farmers of cheap inputs before short rains

A man ploughing land at Nessuit area in Njoro, Nakuru County. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Ominous warnings have been issued about food security. The UN has said up to 22 million people face acute drought in the region.

Out of this, more than four million Kenyans are staring at starvation. The reasons given are that the failed long rains coupled with high cost of fertiliser and the long drawn-out war between Russia and Ukraine are pushing many to starvation.

However, all is not lost. Weather forecasters are predicting, all factors remaining constant, the short rains towards the end of the year will be good enough. With these, the country should be able to pull itself out of the grim situation it is in. This information is in public domain and will only make sense if the relevant authorities plan for the season.

Tea farmers have imported fertiliser in anticipation of the rains. They are, however, complaining that the cost is too high and are calling on the government to give them a subsidy to make the input affordable to majority of farmers. The window for such planning is small as the clock ticks. However, as the country is immersed in post-election activities, the government may not give much thought to this life-saving process.

Government ought to give subsidies for farming inputs if it is to avoid deaths and destruction from the drought. The time for preparing fields is now and any day wasted is a harvest lost. We are in the current state because government officials tinkered with the fertiliser subsidy programme.

The vote was reduced and reallocated and by the time MPs were restarting it, it was too little too late. The crops had withered and the little government offered could not alleviate the situation.

This time round, the goverment must do better. Fertiliser is still costing a leg and an arm. Let farmers access fertiliser and seeds easily and affordably. Red tape should be condemned. In the same way declarations were made in the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, government should release money as soon as possible to avert a more devastating food crisis. We are in a dire state and failing to plan will make matters worse.