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Economy

Fertiliser crisis as crackdown cuts imports

Casual workers off-loading fertiliser
Casual workers off-loading fertiliser. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The purge on importation of substandard goods has cut off fertiliser imports, setting the stage for rally in manure costs ahead of the planting season.

The Ministry of Agriculture says the quantity of subsidised fertiliser in circulation has dropped significantly, push ing the price of planting fertiliser, DAP, above Sh3,500 a bag from Sh2,800 last year.

This has been worsened by lack of State-backed subsidised fertiliser following a tender hitch that saw the Attorney- General office block a Sh6.2 billion tender.

“The stringent measures put in place by the multi-agency team to control fertiliser quality may have reduced the imports hence fertiliser stocks are little,” Hamadi Boga, the Principle Secretary for Crops Development told Parliament last week.

“We have very low entry of fertiliser into the country making prices the way it is.”

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Owners of Agrovet shops warn that prices will rally from this week when farmers from Trans Nzoi and Uasin Gishu start planting with the onset of rains. They predict a bag of planting will rise to above Sh4,000.

The so-called long rains season from March till May haven’t started in most of the country. The delay is likely to curb its economic growth this year, the World Bank said on Tuesday, cutting its forecast to 5.7 percent growth.

Agriculture accounts for about a third of Kenya’s annual economic output.

Prof Boga said subsidised fertiliser procured last year was adequate to influence market prices.

“We have one million 50kg bags compared with three million bags which is normally procured for subsidy,” Prof Boga said.

He said the government had not imported any subsidised fertiliser in the current financial year. The AG advised against extension of a two-year framework that was awarded to M/s Export Trading Group (ETG) on November 4, 2016 to import 150,000 MT of fertiliser at a cost of Sh6.24 billion annually.

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