Farmers will next year use e-vouchers to buy subsidised fertiliser from private agro-vet shops in a bid to curb corruption and offer growers quality input.
The e-voucher payment will spread out distribution from the National Cereals and Produce Board depots (NCPB) — whose staff have been accused of repackaging the subsidised fertiliser and selling it at market rate.
Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga said the planned supply model will also provide zones with fertiliser type that match their soil profile in the quest to deal with declining fertility.
“We are currently working on a scheme that will see the government Issue e-voucher to farmers in the next planting season to ensure that they only get the fertiliser that suits their soils at their local agro-vets,” said Prof Boga.
Farmers will buy e-vouchers from the Agriculture offices in their counties and later redeem them at agro shops for the subsidised fertilisers.
It was becoming costly for farmers in zones not close to the NCPB depots to access the subsidised fertilisers — which retails at Sh1,800 a bag, a 34 discount on the market price of Sh3,000. The government spends about Sh4 billion annually to subsidise fertiliser.
The e-voucher could also curb graft linked to the selling of subsidised fertiliser to non-farmers by the NCPB officials.
The NCPB managers for western, North Rift and South Rift regions were suspended amid revelations that they sold state-funded fertiliser to traders who repackaged the fertiliser to sell at market rate.
Auditor General Edward Ouko said in October the NCPB could not provide verifiable documents for the audit to confirm the actual quantity of fertiliser bought, the quality sold to the farmers and the selling prices under the Sh2.1 billion disbursed to the agency by Ministry of Agriculture.
The PS decried high levels of soil degradation that have been caused by continuous use of wrong fertiliser that has cut production of maize per acre from 35 bags to around 15.
This will be a second attempt by the government to try and make farmers embrace the use of right fertiliser, following the 2013 national soil test results that indicated most regions had been affected by high soil acidity resulting from continuous use of DAP.
The government has been recommending the use of other types such as Single Super Phosphate, which has the same components as DAP but farmers have not been keen to change.