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Monday, 18 April 2016

Laikipia farmers benefit through improved access to subsidized fertilizer

By Bob Aston
Farmers from Laikipia County are experiencing improved access to subsidized government fertilizer during the March-April-May “Long Rain” season through support from the Laikipia County Government.
Laikipia County Government has already helped farmers access close to 2,000 bags of subsidized government fertilizer.
Fertilizer being offloaded from a truck in Sipili
The County government has been providing transport to farmer groups to enable them disburse the fertilizer to their members at Kshs 1,800. Improving access to the subsidized fertilizer has enabled most farmers to save Kshs 1,200 per bag as most private traders sell the 50 kg bag of DAP at Kshs 3,000.
According to Mrs. Jane Putunoi, County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries, the County government is keen in ensuring more farmers are able to purchase the subsidized government fertilizer.
She said that to ensure most farmers in the County access the input at shorter distance, the County government lobbied the national government to allow some cooperatives from the county to purchase fertilizer from the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).
She said that the fertilizer situation in the County would improve as the national government has now approved the appointment of some cooperatives in the county to become NCPB agents. This will ensure that farmers do not incur transport cost and they are able to save time spent seeking for fertilizer in either Nanyuki or Nyahururu.
The government has allowed Ng’arua Dairy Farmers cooperative, Muhotetu Dairy Cooperative Society, Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative Society, Nyambogichi Farmers Cooperative Society and Ng’arua Cereals and Produce Cooperative Society to purchase 2000 bags of 50 kg DAP fertilizer and 3,300 bags of CAN fertilizer from either Nyahururu or Nanyuki NCBP depots.
Mr. Francis Kanja, Chairman, Laikipia Maize Value Chain Development Network noted that the steps taken by the County government has helped more farmers access fertilizer. He noted that previously farmers who are lucky to get the subsidized government fertilizer had to contend with high transport costs.
This has always demoralized most farmers who end up growing impatient and thus decide to buy fertilizer from other businesspersons who sell to them at exorbitant prices.
“Access to subsidized government fertilizer has always been a challenge, as most farmers have to travel long distances to NCPB to purchase fertilizer. They then have to wait for long duration before receiving fertilizer and some cases they even miss,” said Mr. Kanja.
The government reduced prices of subsidized fertilizer to spur productivity and close the cycle of food shortages.  The high cost of the input usually prevents most smallholder farmers from using fertilizer.
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