Cereal farmers in the North Rift region have petitioned the government to intervene and have fertiliser manufactured by an Eldoret-based plant sold at lower rates.
They said the Sh3,000 charged by Toyota Tshusho Fertiliser Africa Ltd per 90-kilogramme bag is too high, and beyond their reach.
The government-subsidised fertiliser distributed by the government through the National Cereals and Produce Board stores countrywide goes for Sh1,800 per bag.
“We expected the firm to sell the fertiliser at a price below Sh1,800 per bag considering that the farming input is produced locally,” said Mr Jonah Kosgei, a farmer from Saos in Nandi County.
Toyota Tshusho has announced that the locally mixed Baraka brand of fertiliser will be sold to farmers at Sh3,000 per bag.
“Distributors will purchase the fertiliser at Sh2,800 from the factory and, in turn, sell it to farmers at Sh3,000,” said Mr Ignatius Kirimi, the company’s production manager.
According to Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett, farmers who miss out on the government-subsidised fertiliser will have to buy the input at the commercial price.
The country requires about 650,000 tonnes of fertiliser per year but some farmers have to plant crops without applying the nutrients as they cannot afford to buy them.
MAIZE PRODUCTION DECLINE
The government had expected the Eldoret plant to cut the cost of fertiliser by about 40 per cent, or sell the input at less than Sh2,000 per bag, saving the government on subsidies.
“We want the government to assure us that it will continue supplying us with subsidised fertiliser now that the cost of the nutrients from Toyota Tshusho is beyond our reach,” said Mr Jail Barno, a farmer from Sergoit in Uasin Gishu County.
The Sh1.5 billion fertiliser blending factory located at Ngeria on the Eldoret-Nakuru highway is a public-private partnership and will produce 150,000 tonnes of fertiliser annually.
A bag of DAP fertiliser sells at an average price of Sh3,000 at most retail outlets in the region while the government-subsidised one goes for Sh1,800.
Maize production in Rift Valley declined from 21 million bags last year to 16 million bags this year due to various factors, including erratic weather conditions and the increased cost of farm inputs that compelled some farmers to plant their crop without applying the nutrients.
Plant to save Kenya Sh6bn annually: CS
Agriculture CS Willy Bett said the Toyota Tsusho factory was expected to save the country Sh6 billion annually in foreign exchange spent on imported fertiliser, which will help farmers to lower the cost of production.
“Fertiliser is a major component the government identified to reduce the cost of production and ensure output goes up,” Mr Bett told the Nation when he toured the plant in July.