Counties

Farmers eye subsidy as fuel prices rise

Perkerra

A maize plantation. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Diesel prices have climbed by the largest margin since July in the latest price review by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority(EPRA), increasing pressure on farmers and transporters already hit by the economic downturn due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • Consumers are now paying Sh4.57 more for a litre of diesel, the highest increase in about six months.
  • Director of the Kenya Farmers Association Kipkorir Menjo said the increase in cost of diesel at a time farmers are preparing for the next planting season will make it difficult for most of them.

Farmers in the North Rift want the government to provide subsidy for farming inputs to cushion them from high cost of production following a sharp rise in diesel prices this month.

Diesel prices have climbed by the largest margin since July in the latest price review by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority(EPRA), increasing pressure on farmers and transporters already hit by the economic downturn due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Consumers are now paying Sh4.57 more for a litre of diesel, the highest increase in about six months.

Director of the Kenya Farmers Association Kipkorir Menjo said the increase in cost of diesel at a time farmers are preparing for the next planting season will make it difficult for most of them. He said the move will see farmers scale down on the acres under crop because of limited funds.

“We want the government to cushion the vulnerable through subsidies on farm inputs to protect farmers from high cost of production,” said Mr Menjo.

Diesel recorded the biggest jump in the prices review by EPRA in its monthly review last week. The government has been aiming at lowering the cost of production. The high cost of production has forced farmers to push up prices of food.

The move will mostly hit farmers who rely on hiring tractors for farming.

At the moment, it takes a farmer Sh3,000 to plough an acre and Sh2,000 for re-ploughing the same size. Most small scale farmers rely on hiring of machines for cultivating and planting their lands as they cannot afford to buy their own.

The government started e-voucher subsidy programme last year in 12 counties on a pilot basis and it is expected to extend the number of regions benefiting from the scheme this year.

Through this programme, the farmer will pay 40 percent of the entire cost with remainder to be met by the government.

As of last November, government had released Sh27 million through the e-voucher while farmers had contributed Sh43 million for the 5,050 beneficiaries.

INPUTS VOUCHERS

Joseph Komu, a project co-ordinator based at the Ministry of Agriculture, said the vouchers are released to extension officers who verify the list of farmers who are meant to benefit from the scheme following the onset of short rains.

“The e-voucher comes as a package to farmers, for instance, those growing maize will get seeds and planting fertiliser while those planting coffee will receive vouchers for top dressing,” said Mr Komu.