A survey by the Central Bank of Kenya indicates that only 29 percent of farmers have purchased subsidised fertiliser as the planting season starts with some growers opting for the expensive commodity in agro vets.
The subsidised fertiliser is being sold at a maximum price of Sh3,500 per 50-kilogramme bag.
CBK said farmers who are yet to receive the subsidy cited a lag between the date of receipt of the notification and redemption of the voucher.
The report further says some of those not registered cited poor quality of the fertiliser, limited stocks, delayed delivery and lack of money.
The government through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) is mainly supplying Nitrogen Potassium Calcium (NPK) fertiliser under the subsidy programme, forcing farmers to buy their preferred Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) in agro vets.
The Ministry of Agriculture deliberately cut on the distribution of DAP as it seeks to cut acidity levels on soils attributed to continuous use of this type of fertiliser.
“The survey established that 29 percent of the sampled farmers had received government-subsidized fertiliser by early March 2023 compared with 20 percent who received in November 2022,” said CBK in the March 2023 Agriculture Survey Report.
However, CBK notes that access to subsidised fertiliser is expected to rise in the coming days since the distribution is still ongoing.
This comes as the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) wants the government to include DAP fertiliser in the subsidy to increase the absorption rate by farmers and enhance productivity on farms.
National Agriculture Research Laboratories centre director Esther Gikonyo said the recently concluded research shows that a farmer would require a double application rate when using NPK as opposed to DAP.
Dr Gikonyo said the country is staring at depressed production this season because of the use of NPK fertilisers, which is not that productive, as most farmers may not have the ability to apply at least two bags of this fertiliser in an acre.
“With DAP a farmer needs just a single bag unlike the NPK where they need to apply at least two bags in order to match the productivity rate of DAP,” said Dr Gikonyo.
Dr Gikonyo urged the government to supply farmers with lime alongside fertiliser so as to help in reducing acidity in the soil.
“It is a fact that our soils are acidic. This can be corrected by the application of lime, cutting DAP will be disastrous in food production,” she said.