Kenya’s ability to feed itself continued to be tested last year with the challenges expected to spill over into 2019 as smooth flow of fertiliser in the market becomes critical in the February/March planting season.
Importers represented by Fertiliser Association of Kenya chairman Eustace Muriuki and Kenya Flower Council (KFC) chief executive Clement Tulezi said most individual and corporate farming enterprises will be forced to scale down operations as the input becomes scarcer by the day.
Mr Muriuki said it now takes four months to clear a single consignment at Mombasa Port where demurrage and storage charges as well as a 20 percent storage tax penalty was applied to facilitate release of fertiliser consignments.
“This makes it impossible to plan your import orders as well as manage product flow in a way that facilitates quick turnaround of any investment made. This unpredictable environment is bad for business since one is unsure of borrowing to buy fertiliser that might arrive long after the rainy season is passed,” said Mr Muriuki.
The fertiliser available in the market is very costly owing to incidental costs attributed to clearance, re-testing and storage charges at Mombasa port that importers have to bear.
Mr Tulezi said the scenario had worsened risking jobs of about 300,000 workers at flower and horticultural farms whose mainstay is a ready flow of fertilisers.
“Flowers are grown under hydroponic conditions that often require mineral nutrients. Without fertiliser, there is no flower farming, no jobs, no exports and this means lost investments,” he said.
The KFC boss said flower farmers had been forced to increased their retail prices adversely affecting their competitiveness in global markets risking loss of customer loyalty that powers the Sh100 billion industry.