Trans-Nzoia governor’s choice of fertiliser sows discord

Trans-Nzoia Governor Patrick Khaemba and Senator Henry ole Ndiema are locked in a battle after the county signed a deal for fertiliser supply with ARM Cement and turned down government-subsidised manure.

Mr Ndiema criticised failure by the national government to distribute subsidised DAP fertiliser to the region purportedly on the advice of Mr Khaemba.

The county spent Sh57 million to subsidise 36,000 bags of lime-based fertiliser to fight soil acidity and 30,000 bags of top dressing fertiliser (Mavuno) from ARM.

The county government had rejected subsidised DAP fertiliser from the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), blaming it for the declining soil fertility in the breadbasket region.

“This decision is dictatorial and is an infringement on farmers’ right of choice. We cannot force all farmers to purchase Mavuno fertiliser which is being promoted by the county government,” Mr Ndiema said. He said neighbouring counties with similar soil composition had not rejected DAP.

But Mr Khaemba said his government had not rejected the product but only advised the national government to also supply lime-based fertiliser. “Let us not politicise this matter. We have not barred DAP from our county but we want it to be accompanied with lime,” he said.

The senator also wondered why the national government reduced the number of bags of NPK fertiliser from 200,000 last year to 20,000 this year without consulting farmers.

“Why are the two governments making such decisions without involving farmers who are the stakeholders in this? This is unacceptable,” he said.

A report released last year revealed that most parts of the county had been affected by the continuous use of DAP that increases soil acidity levels to between five to eight optimum pH level.

The study, which was carried out by a government research institution, recommended the use of other types of fertilisers besides good farming practices to reduce soil acidity as well as inject more nutrients into the soil to enhance productivity.

The State has meanwhile cut down the volumes of DAP to check declining soil productivity.