Quality inputs for Kenya’s farmers


    Ray Maota

    Kenya’s Maize Development Program nearly
    tripled maize yields for small-scale farmers
    according to the 2011 Hunger Report.
    (Image: Flickr)

    Romano Kiome, the permanent secretary
    for the agriculture ministry warned that
    those found trading in the fertiliser would
    be prosecuted.
    (Image: The Standard)

    • Romano Kiome
      Permanent Secretary: Ministry of Agriculture
      + 254 020 2240488/ +254 020 2223521

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    The government of Kenya is helping poorly resourced farmers gain access to quality fertiliser, which will boost their crop yields and address the pressing issue of food security in the East African nation.

    Through the initiative, the Ministry of Agriculture will sell 1.5-million bags of fertiliser to the producers at a subsidised rate.

    Aiding crop cultivation

    David Wanjala, a Rift Valley province monitoring and evaluation officer, said: “If every farmer uses fertiliser in farming, we will automatically achieve high production of food and the problem of food insecurity and low income will be dealt with satisfactorily.”

    The government will supply diamonium phosphate (DAP), calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) and nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK) fertilisers to National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots countrywide.

    The subsidised fertiliser will be far more affordable than other brands on the market of the same quality. It will be clearly marked “Government of Kenya Fertiliser” and will not be allowed to be sold for profit by private retailers.

    Wanjala said: “A 50kg bag of subsidised fertiliser retails at 2 500 shillings (US$30), while the market price for a similar bag is 3 400 shillings ($40).”

    To access the subsidised fertiliser, farmers need a local agricultural officer to come and evaluate their farms to see how many bags are needed. After the farm is evaluated, farmers are able to go to NCPB depots to purchase the goods.

    Romano Kiome, the permanent secretary for the agriculture ministry, said: “Special arrangements would be made to take the farm inputs closer to farmers living in interior areas.” Kiome also warned that those found trading in the fertiliser would be prosecuted.

    Kenyan agriculture

    The Kenyan farming community is overseen by the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, which helps facilitate the production of food and agricultural raw materials in order to find ways to advance food security in the country and to make sure farmers are able to earn a living.

    The ministry has various corporations that are involved in different aspects of agriculture, including the Agricultural Finance Corporation, which finances agricultural programmes; the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, which researches better agricultural productivity to secure food security in the country; the Cotton Development Authority, which coordinates the cotton industry of the country; and the Kenya Seed Company, which facilitates the supply of high quality seeds to farmers.

    African agriculture lacking resources

    Many parts of Africa have a favourable climate and fertile soil, making agriculture well suited to the area, however, the right equipment and expertise is often lacking – and food security is not always guaranteed.

    South Africa’s Standard Bank is determined to make food security a sustainable reality in Africa. In 2009 it decided to help all categories of farmers in the countries in which it operates, prioritising those in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia. Next it will assist producers in Mozambique and Tanzania.

    Jacques Taylor, Standard Bank Africa’s director of agricultural banking, said: “The changing landscape patterns in Africa have created opportunities for agriculture on the continent.

    “Countries have been rated on the basis of risk factors, which include good infrastructure, economy, stable macro-economic and political environment, trading across borders and agribusiness potential.”

    Standard Bank also provides tractors and fertiliser to farmers to make African producers more effective and thus more competitive.