A tea farmer in Nyeri County. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Small scale tea farmers will pay Sh2,600 for a bag of fertiliser, down from the initial price of Sh3,000.

Yesterday, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the government gave a subsidy of Sh1 billion so that fertiliser prices to be reduced by Sh400 per 50-kilo bag.

He noted that the former board of Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) inflated the price after it ordered the commodity from Romania at a high cost.

Munya spoke at Mombasa Port where he flagged off the transportation of 65,000 tonnes of fertiliser worth Sh3 billion by the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

“We want to ensure the fertiliser is available to farmers. We want to reduce the cost of growing tea and ensure the farmer who is critical in the value chain benefits,” Munya said.

The imported fertiliser translates to 1.5 million bags and will be supplied to farmers across the country.

Munya said the fertiliser will be distributed by trucks from Nairobi and will reach all the targeted farmers by September 15.

The CS said although there was still a 20 per cent fertiliser deficit, the government plans to have it bought locally and will push for local manufacturing in the future to lower the prices further.

"KTDA warehouses will have to lower storage charges to reduce logistics costs that farmers incur," he said.

The CS was accompanied by the new KTDA directors, including board chairman David Ichoho, vice-chairman Wesley Koech, Kenya Ports Authority general manager corporate services Edward Kamau, among others.

Munya said following the recent reforms in the tea sector, the uptake of the commodity in the market had increased.

According to Munya, tea farmers are happy after the reserve (minimum) price was increased from $1.9 (Sh207) to about $2.43 (Sh265) per kilo.

“I was branded a communist when I introduced reforms in the tea sub-sector, but there is now an increased uptake of tea in the market,” Munya said, adding that there should be fair compensation for everyone in the value chain.

Ichoho said more than 400,000 bags of fertilizer are yet to be procured, but they will be locally sourced and supplied to regions that have not received it.

He advised farmers to put the fertilizer to good use instead of selling it.

The new board said its focus is to ensure farmers are paid through the price reserve policy that has seen an increase in the tea price.

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