Subsidise fertiliser prices, North Rift farmers ask State


Workers offloading fertliser from a truck. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Many farmers in the North Rift are having sleepless nights due to the high cost of farm inputs and high fuel prices as the rains start this planting season.

Many farmers are still recovering from the aftershocks of the Covid-19 pandemic and may not be able to plant this season because they are unable to afford the inputs and farming costs.

In Trans Nzoia and West Pokot counties, a 50-kilogramme bag of fertiliser now goes at Sh6,400, up from Sh5, 200 last year while a 25-kilogramme bag of maize seed goes at Sh5,000 from Sh3, 800.

Complaints about the delay in importation of the subsidised fertiliser have increased at a time several parts of the expansive North Rift are facing food shortage due to crop failure experienced the previous planting season on drought.

Farmers are appealing to the national government to enhance and expedite the supply of subsidised fertilisers and seeds to the farming community, as many risk delayed planting.

The farmers have accused the government of abandoning them at the time of their need and turning a deaf ear to their pleas for subsidies.

Speaking in Chepchoina, Trans Nzoia, on Wednesday, farmers said high costs and painful shortages have affected all types of farmers and resulted in a poor harvest.

Mr Antonio Mudongi, a large-scale farmer at Chepchoina said they are finding it hard to do farm due to the prohibitive costs.

He decried the high fuel prices, noting that ploughing tractors are charging Sh3,500 for an acre, up from Sh2,000.

“The Government should reduce fuel prices. Small-scale farmers are unable to buy fertiliser and many will be forced to reduce the acreage for crop production this season,” he said.

The chairperson of maize farmers in the region Richard Mwareng said it is only through farm input subsidies that farmers will achieve their goals.

"Our people in West Pokot who heeded calls to end cattle rustling and chose farming are not able to plant, despite having prepared their land earlier due to high costs of seed and fertiliser," he said.

Mr Mwareng decried the delay to disburse planting fertiliser and poor maize prices.

“Farmers in low lands like Kacheliba, Alale and Sigor areas should be given tractors for cultivation. We need AFC loans to support farmers,” he said.

Agriculture CS

He said the county government of West Pokot gave farmers seeds for planting this April, but many have not planted because they don’t have fertiliser.

“Farmers should get fertiliser from the National Cereals and Produce Board,” he said, accusing Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya of rescuing coffee and tea farmers while ignoring maize and dairy farmers.

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