Fertiliser: Punish officials who slept on the job

Farmers in Mugamba Ciura village, Murinduko in Kirinyaga angered after buying goat compost manure mixed with sand from NCPB depot in Embu disguised as subsidized fertilizer. [Jane Mugambi, Standard]

Agriculture, we have been reminded since independence, is the backbone of Kenya’s economy. Sadly, that backbone is on the verge of being splintered by money-hungry cartels said to have even infiltrated the government to sell adulterated subsidised fertiliser in National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) stores.

Farmers from different parts of the country who have bought the fake DAP fertiliser - said to include stones and animal manure - have been complaining about this daylight deception and robbery. However, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary has said there is nothing wrong with the subsidised fertiliser and asked farmers not to be misled by the “con men spreading propaganda”.

However, we want to believe that farmers know fertiliser well and can easily tell if its fake. We must therefore take their complaints seriously.

The question at this juncture is not whether there is bad fertiliser in the market. The question is, who are behind the devious scheme to not only to rip off farmers but also to make Kenya more food insecure?

What is obvious, however, is that for fake fertiliser to be manufactured and to find its way into the market, including in NCPB stores, some people in the government dropped the ball.

The government must ensure that all goods that make their way to the shop shelves are of good quality. Therefore, when poor quality fertiliser is found not only in agrovets but also NCPB stores, there is a likelihood of connivance between the fraudsters and those in positions of authority. The other possibility is that those charged with such gate-keeping slept on the job.

Whichever the case, it is important that besides going for the manufacturers of fake fertilisers, action should be taken against their likely accomplices in government - in the Agriculture Ministry, Kenya Bureau of Standards, NCPB and/or in the police service, among others.

Finally, Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi should also consider resigning, as advised by some leaders, due this huge mess in his ministry.

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