Rising fertiliser prices raise fear of food shortage

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya [Boniface Gikandi, Standard]

Farmers in North Rift have expressed fear of food shortage, adding that rising fertiliser prices have affected production.

Farmers' representatives from the region said without a subsidy programme in place, most farmers will abandon maize production, a situation that could worsen the country's food deficit. Fertiliser prices in the food basket region have hit more than Sh5,500 for a 50kg bag.

While launching the Warehouse Receipt System in Trans Nzoia County recently, CS Peter Munya acknowledged there is a problem with fertiliser prices but said the government is working to address the challenge.

The farmers' representatives said the few growers who can afford to produce maize will be prompted to sell a 90kg bag at more than Sh5,000.

The Consumers Federation of Kenya has raised concern over increasing prices of flour, accusing millers of creating an artificial shortage of maize stocks to make a profit. 

The statement by Cofek Secretary-General Stephen Mutoro said huge stocks of maize were bought from farmers between Sh2,600 and Sh2,800 in December.

But Kipng’etich Mutai, the chairman of Grain Belt Millers Association, said they process stocks immediately they buy from farmers at the current price of Sh3,000 per 90kg bag. 

“Maize prices increased by 700 in December. It started from Sh2,400 and has gone to Sh3,100 per 90kg bag, which is why flour prices are between Sh110 and Sh120 per two kilos,” said Mutai.

“CS Munya recently toured the region and had discussions with farmers. Expectations were high that the government will give fertiliser subsidy ahead of planting,” said David Kiprono, who represents farmers through cooperative societies.

He challenged the government to make the subsidy available by February 15.

With a few weeks to the next planting season, cereals producers have said there is no fertiliser in government stores while agrovet traders sell a 50kg bag at Sh5,500-Sh6,000 depending on the variety.