Governors included in team to buy subsidised fertiliser

The national government has included governors in a team charged with buying subsidised fertilisers for farmers, a move that could end the confusion that has marred the project.

This follows the formation of a taskforce comprising Ministry of Agriculture officials and the Council of Governors, whose responsibilities include reviewing buying of fertiliser.

READ: Farmers hit as funds for cheap fertiliser reduced by Sh900m

Although agriculture is devolved, procurement of fertiliser is solely run by the national government. Counties such as Bungoma and Trans Nzoia — some of the largest maize producers — have been embroiled in wrangles over the purchase and re-distribution of fertiliser.

In a statement yesterday, the Council of Governors secretariat said a taskforce had been formed to ‘‘review the modalities of procurement and distribution of subsidised fertiliser.

‘‘The representation of the taskforce will be drawn from the National Cereals and Produce Board, the National Treasury and the private sector.”

The decision, the statement said, was reached during a meeting of the interim Joint Agriculture Secretariat.

“Apart from the joint secretariat, the meeting discussed review of the sector master plan, the fertiliser subsidy support programme, the youth agri-business strategy and implementation of sector Acts and regulations,” said the statement.

The subsidised fertiliser programme has been marred by allegations of graft and claims that unscrupulous dealers rebrand the commodity for re-sale to farmers at higher rates.

This led to a ban on repackaging fertiliser by Agriculture secretary Willy Bett. Last year, 26 staff at the NCPB were sacked after colluding with businessmen to divert fertiliser to the market.

The subsidised fertiliser programme was introduced in 2014 in what President Uhuru Kenyatta said would help improve the production of food crops in the country and close the cycle of food shortages.

In the plan, the cost of a 50kg bag of DAP fertiliser would retail at Sh2,000 down from Sh2,480, NPR fertiliser at Sh2,000 down from 2,300, and CAN at Sh1,500 ifrom Sh1,600.

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