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June 06, 2008

Kenyan farmers resell subsidised fertilizer

In a reaction to reports that some Kenyan farmers were reselling subsidised fertiliser to traders, the government has warned farmers against buying fertiliser they had sourced for them at a price higher than its recommended one.

The State through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) said farmers would only have themselves to blame if they buy Calcium Ammonia Nitrate (CAN) at a price higher than the Sh1,650 (US $26) they had set for a 50-kilogramme bag.

NCPB’s spokesman Kipserem Maritim said NCPB’s branded CAN - a top dressing input they were selling to farmers, should not be resold. He said as part of the Government’s strategy to boost food security in the country, it would be absurd for farmers to collude with unscrupulous businessmen to exploit their colleagues.

“NCPB has taken note of reports in the media regarding businessmen peddling its branded CAN fertiliser at prices way above our retail prices. The board wishes to clarify that the price of Sh1,650 by the Government was set at that subsidised level as a way of enabling farmers to apply sufficient top dressing fertiliser thereby achieve a good yield,” Mr Maritim said.

Mr Maritim absolved the Government from any blame, saying once the input has left their depots under the hands of farmers, it was no longer under their control.

A racket was smashed in Kitale in which a number of traders were found reselling NCPB subsidised fertiliser at a profit. Members of the public arrested a businessman who was found with 800 bags. The trader was selling the input at Sh2,200 representing a profit of Sh550 he was getting from the illegal trade.

A survey showed the farmers buy the input depending on the quantity they bought last year but since most of them had reduced acreage under maize or wheat due to skyrocketing planting fertiliser, most of them had decided to sell the extra bags to traders.

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