Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has apologised to farmers over the delayed distribution of subsidised fertiliser to depots across the country.
Mr Linturi also apologised for the failure of his ministry to correctly capture farmer details during the registration process which has resulted in many applicants not receiving messages to collect their subsidised fertiliser. That anomaly has caused confusion in the ongoing exercise.
Displeased farmers who were queuing for fertiliser at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots Eldoret on Friday, March 24, asked the CS who was on a visit to the stores why the subsidy program was still faced with numerous challenges even when the planting season had started.
Farmers who registered for the subsidised fertiliser which is sold at, Sh3,500 per 50 kg bag have been receiving text messages detailing where they would collect their inputs and the quantities they are entitled to pick.
But many maize farmers, including large-scale producers, were yet to receive messages at the onset of the rains, sparking uproar.
The farmers also questioned why the fertiliser was only available at NCPB depots in major towns, making it inaccessible to farmers from remote areas.
“I am here at the Eldoret depot to ask why I am yet to receive a message to collect fertiliser, yet I applied like other farmers. Why is there confusion in the subsidy program? I have gone as far as asking the county commissioner (of Uasin Gishu) why I was not getting a message, and I was told that I was entitled to 40 per cent of what I had applied for,” a large-scale farmer asked the Agriculture CS.
Edwin Kapelel, a farmer from Kerio Valley in Elgeyo Marakwet told Mr Linturi that he had travelled hundreds of kilometres to Eldoret in search of fertiliser after he failed to get the subsidised input in Marakwet East.
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“Why has the Ministry of Agriculture failed to consider farmers in Kerio Valley in the distribution of subsidised fertiliser? Is the Ministry assuming that no farming is taking place in Kerio Valley because of banditry?” asked Kapelel.
Linturi asked farmers who applied for the subsidised fertiliser and were yet to receive text messages to follow up with their local Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs.
“There are challenges in the fertiliser program, and we apologize for that. We are now listening to the farmer to ensure that the process is seamless,” Mr Linturi responded.
On the limited distribution of fertiliser, especially to remote areas, Linturi said additional fertiliser will be distributed to Iten, Kapsowar, Kapcherop and Kamwosor depots in Elgeyo Marakwet as farmers start planting, to reverse the current shortage.
The CS said the Ministry had set up a 24-hour call centre at Kilimo House to address questions raised by farmers and to assist agricultural producers whose details had not been captured properly during the farmer registration exercise last year.
“The planting season is starting, and we are making adjustments to the subsidy program so that we serve farmers better. I am on the ground to follow up and ensure that fertiliser gets to the farmer,” Linturi said in Eldoret.
The CS also visited Trans Nzoia and West Pokot counties. He toured Kericho and Nandi on Thursday, March 23.
He said agrochemicals, lime used in reversing soil acidity and seeds will be included in the government subsidy programs in the government's bid to increase agricultural productivity.