Fertiliser held up at port for lack of space in NCPB

Workers offload sacks of fertiliser at the port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Workers offload sacks of fertiliser at the port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Subsidised fertiliser is held up at the Port of Mombasa due to shortage of space at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB). This comes ahead of planting season in April in the North Rift.

The shortage of storage space has been caused by the ongoing procurement of maize across major NCPB depots in the country.

Agriculture principal secretary Richard Lesiyampe said there are over 100,000 tonnes of fertiliser in Mombasa but it cannot be moved for lack of space.

“We already have fertiliser in Mombasa but we cannot transfer it to other parts of the country because there is no available space for storage,” said Dr Lesiyampe.

The PS said some of the maize could be relocated to regions where fertiliser is not needed in order to create room at the depots.

The NCPB has bought 2.7 million bags of maize since the exercise began last year. This is the highest purchase made in a single harvest season.
Planting is expected to start in April this year with the weatherman predicting that rains will come on time.

Currently farmers are preparing their land in readiness for planting. A section of farmers from the North Rift early this week raised concerns that the delay in distribution of the subsidised fertiliser would affect them adversely.

The delay has in the past forced growers to opt for expensive commercial input sold in agrovets to avoid late planting.

The subsidy programme has also been found to have loopholes with genuine farmers missing out because of unscrupulous traders who collude with NCPB officials to buy huge volumes of fertiliser for resale.

In 2016, the government suspended over 20 managers at the board who had been suspected of of engaging in the vice.

The aim of the subsidy fertiliser is to lower the cost of production for farmers.

However, a recent research report showed the plan has not achieved its target as it has been weighed down by other factors, including the high cost of weeding.

Egerton-based think tank, Tegemeo Institute of Agriculture says weeding comprises 36 to 53 per cent of the total labour cost in maize production.