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E-subsidy programme roll-out offers respite for farmers

The e-subsidy programme targets small-scale farmers who cultivate a maximum of five acres. [Eliud Kipsang, Standard]

The government has embarked on an e-subsidy programme to address the skyrocketing cost of farm inputs ahead of this year's planting season.

With planting fertilizer prices soaring to between Sh5,600 and Sh6,000 per 50kg bag, depending on variety and suppliers, small-scale farmers stand to benefit from the initiative under the National Value Chain Support Programme.

Beneficiaries of the e-subsidy initiative will pay 60 per cent of the inputs while the national government will clear the balance.

Farmers who were registered last year after county agricultural officials vetted them in their respective farms started receiving notifications through Short Message Service (SMS) from early this week to turn up for vouchers.

“Dear farmer, the vouchers for long rain cropping season are active. To obtain the vouchers, visit your Ward Agricultural Officer (WAO) for verification. Thank you. Ministry of Agriculture” reads a message sent to a farmer in North Rift and seen by The Standard yesterday.

The development comes even as players in Uasin Gishu County claim the "process is slow and might not meet the urgency of current planting season" and called on the government to release funds for an expanded subsidy programme to prevent a food crisis in the country.

The e-subsidy programme targets small-scale farmers who cultivate a maximum of five acres and a minimum of one acre.

Small-scale farmers stand to benefit from the initiative under the National Value Chain Support Programme. [Courtesy]

The programme is being piloted in Sergoit and Ngenyilel wards in Uasin Gishu County and Lelmokwo/Ngechek and Kabisaga wards in Nandi County.

Dr Kiplimo Lagat, the Nandi executive for Agriculture, said more than 200 farmers had collected inputs through the e-subsidy programme in the county by yesterday.

“The programme was extended to upper parts of Nandi where maize is grown, including Chesumei, Emgwen and Mosop. Priority is given to maize seed and planting fertilizer,” he said.

Lagat added that although they targeted 60,000 farmers in Nandi, only 30,000 were registered, noting the majority of locals could not be listed because they were skeptical when details of land title deeds were asked.

The official said farmers will pay 60 per cent of the prevailing cost of fertilizer that ranges between Sh5,600 and Sh5,800 in most parts of Nandi.  

Mr Samuel Yego, the Uasin Gishu executive for Agriculture, expressed fear of a food crisis in the country unless the national government acts by giving orders and releasing funds for fertilser subsidy for the current planting season.

“Majority farmers have not been enumerated under the e-subsidy programme, and the project may not serve the urgency in the planting season that has already started.