Counties

Farmers hit by rising fertiliser pricing

yara

A worker at a Yara fertiliser warehouse in Nairobi on August 11, 2020. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Summary

  • Rising global fertiliser prices, on declined raw material supply, has turned the pressure on grain farmers in the North Rift ahead of the main plating season.
  • According to World Bank’s latest fertiliser price index report, high energy costs and tight supplies by largest producers like China have pushed up prices of the commodity.
  • Global environmental regulations have pushed up prices of raw materials, mainly Sulphur and ammonia.

Rising global fertiliser prices, on declined raw material supply, has turned the pressure on grain farmers in the North Rift ahead of the main plating season.

According to World Bank’s latest fertiliser price index report, high energy costs and tight supplies by largest producers like China have pushed up prices of the commodity.

Global environmental regulations have pushed up prices of raw materials, mainly Sulphur and ammonia.

The landed cost for a tonne of fertiliser at the Port of Mombasa is expected to increase to about Sh32,000 as compared to Sh28,950 last year, complicating matters for farmers who are in urgent need of the inputs.

The country requires about 650,000 tonnes of fertiliser annually. However, some farmers plant crops without fertiliser because it is unaffordable.

The World Bank 2019/20 Kenya Economic Update indicates that subsidised fertiliser majorly benefits affluent farmers and companies that distribute the manure.

According to the report, high energy costs and tight supplies by largest producers like China have pushed prices beyond the reach of most smallholder farmers.

But it is a relief to the farmers after the government introduced reforms in the agricultural sector to cushion them against high production costs and sub-standard inputs.

Among the reforms include availing low cost fertilizer through the e-voucher system to be issued through registered cooperatives to enable small scale farmers to benefit from the subsidy.

The government is to source the fertilizer at Sh2,300 up from Sh1,800 from manufacturers which will be sold to farmers on agency basis through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) and Kenya National Traders Corporation (KNTC) as opposed to Sh3,200 from retailers.

According Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, farmers from this season buy the fertilizer at Sh2,300 from NCPB and KNTC using the E-Voucher system to cushion them from high production cost.

“Piloting of the system has begun in some counties and is meant to tickle down to the most deserving cases through registered cooperative societies,” he said when he disclosed the reforms during a meeting with farmers from the North Rift region in Eldoret late last year.

He said the vouchers will be issued through registered cooperatives to enable small scale farmers to benefit from the scheme.

The cereal farmers have applauded the reforms but petitioned the government to adhere to the Maputo declaration of 2003 which is a signatory and allocate at least 10 per cent of the national budget to agriculture.

“The Maputo declaration was affirmed by the Malabo protocol of 2014 on sustainable development goals and the government needs to implement it to revitalize the agriculture sector,” Mr Kipkorir Menjo, Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) director.