Kenya: Government subsidizes fertilizer prices to benefit farmers

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President Mwai Kibaki today assured farmers of the Government's commitment to ensure availability and access to affordable farm inputs, especially fertilizers and seeds.

President Kibaki said DAP fertilizer will be sold at a reduced price of Kshs 2,500 while CAN fertilizer will retail at Kshs 1,650 per 50kg bag from a high of Kshs 6,000.

"It is for this reason that the Government has taken over procurement of 40% of the national fertilizer requirement. This will cost 6.2 billion shillings, excluding the Tea fertilizer being bought by KTDA for 1.6 billion shillings. The total amount of fertilizer to be procured by the Government and the KTDA will be 163,000 metric tons", President Kibaki noted.

The President was addressing wananchi at Moi's Bridge Centre in Uasin Gishu District where he officially launched the food production campaign and flagged off fertilizer to various depots for distribution to farmers.

The Head of State said the price of seed has also been reduced by Kshs 50 and Kshs 10 per 10kg packet and 2kg packet respectively.

"We want to reduce the cost of farm inputs so that farmers can increase production and also benefit from their hard work," President Kibaki said.

President Kibaki said the Government has also put in place various short and long term measures to militate against food deficits in the country.

President Kibaki said pointed out that the short term measures include targeted subsidy scheme for the vulnerable groups under the Kilimo plus program and waiver of duty on imported maize for six months.

The President said the Government will also raise maize purchase prices by National Cereals and Produce Board to encourage farmers so as to increase maize production, adding that the Government will import 7 million bags of white maize to address the shortage of the commodity in the country.

Other measures include bulk importation of 163,000 MT of fertilizer and increasing the Strategic Grain Reserve from the current 4 million bags to 6 million bags by the end of this financial year and 8 million bags by the year 2010.

"The Government has also put in place several long term measures such as strengthening research and extension, establishing irrigation projects and, promoting production of traditional crops to ensure sustained food security," the President said.

Noting that the post-election violence that rocked the country early last year was partly to blame for the current food crisis which resulted in destruction of maize and disruption of farming activities in some parts of the Country, President Kibaki appealed to Kenyans to live peacefully with one another in the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation.

He asked farmers to take advantage of the reduced fertilizer and seed prices to embark on serious food production so as to make the country self sufficient.

The President attributed the low national food production in the Country to depressed rains for two seasons in Eastern and Central and unaffordable fertilizer prices in North Rift and Western provinces.

The Head of State observed: "Last year's national maize production was estimated at 26 m bags against a target of 34 m. The failed short rains in Eastern and Central Provinces led to near total crop failure, realizing 1.8 million bags of maize against normal production of 6 million bags. An estimated 30-40% of farmers in North Rift and Western Kenya planted either with sub-optimal fertilizer levels or none at all, due to the high prices of fertilizer."

President Kibaki said North Rift was a strategic grain production region and a good market for farm inputs with a storage capacity of 4.8 million bags of maize.

Speaking during the occasion, Agriculture Minister William Ruto thanked the President for ensuring the increase of funds for the Ministry of Agriculture from 4.5 percent to 8 percent of the national budget.

The Agriculture Minister also thanked the President for increasing the nation food reserve from 4 million to 8 million bags, saying this will go a long way towards guaranteeing the country's food security.

To boost food production, Minister Ruto said 78,000 less endowed farmers will be provided with affordable fertilizers and seeds with 43,000 of them coming from Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu and Bungoma districts.

The minister said the Government is also providing sweet potato, cassava, sorghum and millet seeds to farmers across the country so as to promote production of local foods.

Other Speakers included Special Programmes Minister Naomi Shaban, Moses Wetangula, Members of Parliament Joshua Kutuny, Eugene Wamalwa, Prof. Margaret Kamar, Peris Simam and Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner Hassan Noor Hassan among others.