Cereal farmers in the North Rift region have called for prompt delivery of government subsidised fertiliser as preparations for the next planting season commence.
This is a shift from their demands for better producer prices.
The growers yesterday petitioned the Agriculture ministry to import the farming inputs early.
They said it should avoid the last-minute rush that results in some of them planting their crops without applying the nutrients.
“We want the government to introduce a coordinated system of importing and distributing the fertiliser to enable farmers to purchase the nutrients on time and ensure smooth planting,” said Mr Wesley Kosgei from Moiben, Uasin Gishu County.
The country requires about 650,000 tonnes of fertiliser yearly but some farmers have to plant crops without applying the nutrients due to unaffordable prices.
The subsidised fertiliser, distributed through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), goes for Sh1,800 per 90kg bag but sells at Sh3,000 in retail markets.
At the same time, the NCPB offered Sh3,000 for a 90kg bag of maize this season, much to the relief of farmers who had for long suffered from low producer prices.
According to Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett, farmers who miss out on the subsidised fertiliser will have to buy the nutrients at commercial prices.
Toyota Tshusho Fertiliser Africa (TTFA) has announced that the locally mixed Baraka brand of fertiliser will be selling at Sh3,000.
“Distributors will purchase the fertiliser at Sh2,800 at the factory level and in turn sell to farmers at Sh3,000,” said TTFA production manager Ignatius Kirimi.
But the farmers criticised the Sh3,000 charged by TTFA, saying it is too high.
They asked the ministry to intervene and have the fertiliser manufactured by the Eldoret-based plant sold at subsidised rates to enable them to afford buying it.
“We expect the firm to sell the manure at a lower price considering that the branding is done locally,” said Mr Jonah Kosgei from Saos, Nandi County.
The ministry had estimated that the Eldoret plant would cut the cost of fertiliser by about 40 per cent.
“We want the ministry to assure us that it will continue supplying us with subsidised fertiliser now that the cost of the nutrients from Toyota Tshusho is beyond our reach,” said Mr Wesly Kurgat from Uasin Gishu County.
The Sh1.5 billion fertiliser blending factory, located at Ngeria on the Eldoret-Nakuru highway, is a public-private partnership. It will produce 150,000 tonnes of fertiliser annually.
Maize production in Rift Valley declined from 21 million bags to 16 million last season due to various factors, including extreme weather conditions and the high cost of farming inputs, which compelled some of the farmers to plant crops without applying the nutrients.