Agro-dealers have protested over the government’s decision to sell subsidised fertiliser and seeds directly to farmers.
While commending the government for helping reduce the cost of fertiliser and certified seeds, the dealers led by Ms Alice Munyao from Kinangop and Mr Said Hamis of Voi who are members of Mazao Forum said the government system is edging them out of business.
“We invested money after conducting a survey in our regions that found that certified seeds and fertilisers are the most popular. But when the government subsidises the two items we are left with no option but to seek alternative funds to service loans as other items we sell take longer to sell,” said Ms Munyao.
This, they added, had disrupted the agro-business since their projections done during the planting period when they sold many fertiliser bags and certified seeds packages had been taken over by government.
In 2014, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a reduction in prices of subsidised fertiliser in order spur productivity and close the cycle of food shortages.
The government has been selling subsidized fertilizers through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) network, Agricultural Development Corporation stores and Kenya Seed Company premises.
“Some of our colleagues have been forced to close shop and seek alternative funds to service their loans as only a few customers buy any items from them,” said Mr Hamisi.
The Mazao Forum urged the government to include them in the supply chain saying exclusion spelt doom to their businesses.
“Only a few farmers seek our advice on proper farm management and end up wasting away the subsidy and when we close down, we also deny the farmer a place to seek advice from,” said the traders.
At the same time, the agro-dealers have raised alarm over increased harassment by Kenya Veterinary Board (KVB) inspectors who invade their premises in search of prohibited products.
There are approximately 6,700 agro-dealers in the country and each dealer works with multiple suppliers in crop seed, vegetable seed, livestock and bet products, agrochemicals, fertilizer, services such as soil testing.
KRA has been issuing tax compliance notices to several landlords who have remained non-compliant since the tax came into force.