Fertiliser scandal probe to unearth truth, says CS

Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The government has launched investigations into the fake fertiliser scandal, even as it assured farmers that most products in the market are genuine.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi warned that those found culpable of the scam will face the full wrath of the law. This emerged as three Kwanza lawmakers admitted that the slow distribution of government-subsidised fertiliser was exposing them to unnecessary hostility from voters.

Speaking in Naivasha on Saturday, the CS was quick to note the subsidised fertiliser programme that had benefited hundreds of farmers, has not been affected by the allegations.

In the last couple of weeks, reports have emerged that farmers were supplied with fake fertiliser by unscrupulous traders, leading to a drop in crop production.

This came as it emerged that the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has collected samples of the fertiliser said to be fake for a review, with results expected next week.

Mr Linturi said his office had not received any complaints over the fertiliser subsidy programme that had been rolled across the country. He also added that the fake fertiliser claims had been blown out of proportion adding that farmers had nothing to fear as they had received quality and genuine fertiliser from the state.

“We want to assure farmers that the government’s subsidised fertiliser is genuine and they should ignore the other stories though we have launched investigations into the same,” he said.

Assured farmers

He assured farmers that the government had imported more subsidised fertiliser which would arrive in the country by the first week of April. “This year, the government will be distributing over 12.5 million bags of subsidised fertiliser to farmers as demand has risen by over 200,000 acres,” he said.

The three Kenya Kwanza lawmakers, who spoke about farmers’ long wait for inputs ahead of the coming maize planting season, appealed to concerned agencies need to address the issue.

Speaking during a function in Uasin Gishu County earlier this week, the MPs, allies of President William Ruto, challenged concerned government institutions including the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to speed up distribution of the fertiliser.

Led by Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, the leaders blamed top management of the board, adding that they will not shoulder blame from voters when responsible agencies should act. “NCPB management should address the fertiliser issue or be kicked out before voters turn their wrath on elected leaders,” said Barasa.

He noted that voters are angry and frustrated over delays in accessing subsidised fertilizer in the wake of planting season. 

They spoke at Chepkigen primary school in Soy constituency where area MP David Kiplagat had hosted Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and his Kesses counterpart Julius Rutto during the launch of a Sh55 million bursary distribution.

Rutto asked NCPB regional managers to put in place measures to ease the distribution of the inputs to farmers.

Nyoro also urged the board to improve efficiency and deliver their services fast to the farmers. Rutto added: “We are not going to sit down when our farmers are complaining about poor services in fertiliser distribution. We are not ready to carry the blame.” 

The MPs warned that unless the matter is addressed with the seriousness it deserves, the country might be plunged into a food crisis next year.