Technology-driven fertiliser application boosted maize production in 2023: Ruto

President William Ruto, AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki (third left), and other African Heads of State and Government at KICC, Nairobi. [PCS]

President William Ruto emphasizes that African nations must embrace large-scale subsidised fertiliser use to achieve a green revolution across the continent.

Ruto highlighted his administration’s fertiliser subsidy program, which utilises technology to reach six (6) million registered farmers for the last-mile distribution of farm inputs.

"Three years ago, our national food production was low, primarily due to high input costs. In 2022, maize production was only 30 million bags against a normal production of 40 million bags," explained Ruto.

"To address this, we made inputs, especially fertiliser, more accessible and affordable. This initiative resulted in a harvest of 61 million bags of maize in 2023."

According to the president, Africa possesses over 60 percent of the world's uncultivated arable land, and thus has the potential for similar bumper harvests continent-wide, if leaders ensure farmers receive the right fertiliser in sufficient quantities.

He reiterated that farmers face challenges such as floods and drought, which adversely affect soil health.

"Fluctuating fertiliser prices and supply chain disruptions, exacerbated by conflict in producing regions, underscore the need for securing adequate, affordable, and sustainable fertiliser production and supply across Africa," he added.

The Kenyan Head of State urged African countries to invest in measures that aid the affordability and availability of soil-specific fertilizer, to make farming profitable.

Coincidentally, the president's plea comes when Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi is facing impeachment over the fake fertiliser scandal.

Ruto addressed the African Fertiliser and Soil Health Summit at the KICC, Nairobi on Thursday, May 9. The three-day event has drawn presidents and other regional and continental leaders.

Attendees include African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki, AU Chairman and President of Mauritania- Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, Presidents Hakainde Hichilema (Zambia), Emmerson Mnangagwa (Zimbabwe), Nangolo Mbumba (Namibia), among others.

Also present is Raila Odinga, a contender for the AUC chairperson job, which will be vacant in February next year.