Farmers are grappling with a shortage of subsidised fertiliser due to depleted stocks at the National Cereals and Produce Board, a move that is likely to delay planting.
It has emerged that the companies supplying NCPB with fertiliser are struggling to strike a balance between supplies to the government and their regular customers.
NCPB has confirmed that they are not getting sufficient stocks to meet the farmers' needs with stocks being paid for upfront by farmers before it gets to the depots.
The government has set aside Ksh5.7 billion ($49.2 million) for 2,280,000 subsidy bags for farmers growing food crops. These quantities will support the cultivation of 1.13 million acres with farmers paying Sh2,800 per bag from a high of Ksh6,200 ($53.56) in the market.
As a result, the cereals board is now supplying fertiliser in quotas to benefit all the regions across the country.
“We are relying on suppliers’ goodwill to get the stocks that we need to sell to farmers; what we get is what we sell. We do not have control over the number of bags that we get,” said an official at the NCPB.
NCPB is selling fertiliser on behalf of the government with the State expected to pay suppliers directly.
There have been fears that the suppliers would prefer selling it directly to their customers where they are paid promptly as opposed to NCPB, which could take some time before the payments are made.
However, NCPB says they pay the suppliers on time and that should not be a concern.
“The suppliers are being paid in good time and there shouldn’t be fears over delayed payment,” said the official.
Some of the firms supplying NCPB with the product are Maisha Minerals, the dealers of Mavuno, Minjingu Mines, Fanisi and OCP Kenya who are supplying the cereals board with different types of fertiliser.
Peter Munya, the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary told Parliament in March that his ministry needed at least Ksh31.8 billion ($274.7 million) to effectively offer the subsidy to farmers.
The CS said should the ministry get the Ksh31 billion ($267.8 million) the price of the planting fertiliser (Diamonium Phosphate) would drop to Ksh2,800 ($24.19).
Fertiliser for maize farmers was not included in the current budget, however, other crops such as coffee and tea got Sh1 billion ($8.6 million) each with sugar getting Ksh1.5 billion ($12.9 million).