Kebs seizes 5,840 bags of substandard fertiliser in NCPB stores

KEBS CEO Esther Ngari before the National Assembly's Committee on Agriculture and Livestock to discuss the Fertilizer Subsidy program at the Continental house, Nairobi. March 20th,2024 [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Kenya National Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has seized 5,840 bags of substandard fertiliser from National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) stores across the country.

This came to the fore yesterday during a sitting of the National Assembly Agriculture and Livestock Committee where Kebs management revealed that fake fertiliser  was still in circulation and urged Kenyans to be wary.

Kebs Managing Director Esther Ngari revealed that fertiliser by the name GPC plus Organics packaged in 25-kilogram bags and which was being distributed to NCPB outlets by SBL-innovate Manufacturers Limited was substandard and had not been certified by Kebs.

Ngari submitted that after testing 59 sample bags sourced from various NCPB outlets, they had arrived at the conclusion that the said fertiliser was substandard and was not the organic fertiliser that the company had been certified to supply.

The bags were obtained from NCPB outlets in Elburgon (68), Kipkaren saliet (31) and Ziwa (45) just to name a few.

“The fertiliser had high levels of PH, is dolomite in nature as it is composed of calcium, magnesium and carbonate whose purpose is to only act as a soil conditioner yet the required fertiliser in the Kenyan soil is organic fertiliser that is required to add nutrients and sustain growth,” said Ngari.

The Tigania West MP John Mutunga-led committee heard that Kebs had already written to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) seeking the arrest and prosecution of SBL-innovate Manufacturers Limited owners.

The company allegedly ignored the directive to only import organic fertiliser brand Bl -GPC original and proceeded to improperly use the standardisation mark by bringing in subsatndard fertiliser.

SBL-innovate Manufacturers Limited had been given the greenlight to import BL-GPC original fertiliser but imported GPC plus Organics Fertiliser.

Kebs further submitted that the company in question “displayed the quality mark on a product that had not undergone the mandatory certification process as stipulated by Standards act and governed by the applicable standard.”

“Through routine market surveillance activities and public complaints, Kebs recently identified a potential breach of the certification contract by SBL-innovate Manufacturers Limited. This act undermines consumer trust and could potentially ham agricultural productivity,” stated Ngari.

The committee however sought to know why the institution had taken time before commencing investigations and carrying out tests on substandard fertiliser.

The Kebs boss said that SBL -innovate Manufacturers Limited having being given a standardisation mark to import fertiliser in January 2022, proceeded to deny Kebs access to their stores and those of NPCB.

“This fertiliser was only being distributed from NCPB outlets which we had earlier on unsuccessfully tried to gain access to. We went there on January 17, 2024 and were not allowed to pick the samples. NCPB told us to write a letter which we did on January 19 but got a response on January 31. We then proceeded to do the sampling on February 5,” she said.

“We had challenges to get the samples as they were only found in the NCPB stores in the country. What this company did is a contravention of the standards Act and amounts to Fraud,” Ngari added.

Chairman Mutunga, while emphasizing the culpability of the company, castigated it for potentially exposing Kenyans to health hazards.

“This committee will summon the Ministry of Agriculture and specifically the State Department for Crops and the NCPB as well so they can tell us how the product was given a clean bill of health and stocked in their stores. We will also have a meeting with the manufacturers so they can answer this committees’ questions,” he said.

Embu Woman Rep Pamela Njoki demanded that the farmers who bought the substandard fertiliser be compensated. She sought to have NCPB produce a list of those given the substandard fertiliser.

Soy MP David Kiplagat regretted that some of the fertiliser may have already been used by farmers for planting and questioned how long it was in circulation.

“Today I am a bit worried if this is what is happening. We need to know when the original and recommended fertiliser is going to reach the market,” he said.

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