Producers are paying a steep price following delayed clearance of 2,000 tonnes of calcium and potassium nitrate fertiliser at the Mombasa Port, hurting horticultural and flower production.
Kenya Flower Council (KFC) chief executive Clement Tulezi said importers are charging Sh65,000 a tonne compared to the usual Sh25,000 before the government started pre-inspection last June.
“The situation is fast getting out of hand since Kenya lacks the capacity to test for the nitrate-based fertilisers. This has seen all nitrate-based consignments fail the re-examination test and have been held at Mombasa port for the past four months awaiting resolution of the problem,” he said.
Kitale flower and fruits farmer Bob Anderson said the delay had adversely affected commercial operations, with port and storage demurrage charges as well as the newly introduced 20 per cent tax on demurrage charges being heaped on fertiliser importers.
“The government’s move to block entry of fertiliser is a disincentive that has reversed gains made in Kenya’s second highest foreign exchange earner. Our farmers must increase their retail prices further, making Kenya’s produce unaffordable,” said the KFC boss.
Mr Tulezi said Kenya’s 40 per cent competitive edge in the global flower market risked being wiped away by bureaucratic processes at the port that hampered smooth flow of fertiliser through the port for onward transportation to the farms.
“Kenya is also tarnishing its reputation as a fertiliser business partner since no importer pays for their consignment upon arrival as it was before but have to wait for re-testing and pay upon clearance. This means future direct exports of fertiliser from manufacturers to Kenya could be minimal making the commodity expensive,” said M Tulezi.
The Mombasa Port debacle arose after some unscrupulous importers brought in substandard fertiliser sold to farmers via the government subsidised system leading to poor harvests.
Fertiliser consignments are inspected and certified in the country of origin before shipment and subjected to re-inspection upon arrival in Kenya.