Parliament has summoned Agriculture and Treasury cabinet secretaries over the looming shortage of subsidised fertiliser as it emerged that a two-year supply contract expired last month.
The Agriculture committee said the country had been plunged into a fertiliser crisis due to the Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki’s decision to review the supply contract documents.
“If the Attorney-General had not scrutinised the documents, fertiliser would be here. We are blaming the AG in away but as you know the war on corruption has seen people take extra caution on procurement processes such as this,” Adan Haji, who chairs the committee, said.
“As a result of the Attorney General seeking some clarifications on the subsidised fertiliser procurement contract from the ministry, the two-year contract lapsed on January 12.”
In 2017, the government signed a deal with the Export Trading Company Limited to supply imported fertiliser for three years.
The committee warned of a looming crisis in food production if urgent steps are not taken to ship in fertiliser ahead of the planting season next month.
The committee wants Agriculture secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and Treasury secretary Henry Rotich to appear before it next Monday to outline measures that the government has put in place to procure the cheap fertiliser.
“We are told that the company that got two-year framework contract to import subsidised fertiliser was not given an order to supply because there were issues needed to be answered and hence the contract lapsed,” said Mr Haji.
“We are facing a serious crisis because there is no fertiliser, planting season fast approaching and we have witnessed a surge in prices.”
He said the earliest the fertiliser can reach farmers is in May if nothing happens to import it immediately.
Two weeks ago, the Agriculture ministry warned of the possibility of the government failing to buy subsidised fertiliser for farmers. It hinted that Mr Kihara had advised the ministry not to proceed with the procurement of close to 150,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser due to failure to adhere to procurement procedures in 2017.
Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Andrew Tuimur said the Director of Criminal Investigations and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission are investigating the distribution exercise and the parties involved.
Farmers have, for the past 11 years, been receiving the subsidised fertiliser through the National Cereals and Produce Board.