Security officials Friday afternoon seized more than 300 bags of subsidised fertiliser in a shop at Harambee market in Matungu Sub-County in Kakamega which had been repackaged in smaller bags and ready for sale.
Mumias Criminal Investigations Officer Robert Murithi said police in collaboration with officials from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) raided the shop and recovered the consignment.
Mr Murithi said they were tipped off by residents about the unscrupulous trader who is believed to have colluded with cartels at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to access the subsidized fertiliser which he repackages and sells at hiked prices.
“We have launched investigations into this scandal to find out how the government fertiliser is ending up in the hands of brokers who exploit desperate farmers by selling the input at exaggerated costs,” said Mr Murithi.
The subsidised fertiliser is sold to registered farmers at Sh1,500 per bag.
With the shortage of the fertiliser at the NCPB stores, farmers are buying the fertiliser from retail shops at higher prices.
A source at the NCPB said brokers connected to corrupt officials at the board had taken advantage of the recruitment process and accessed the government fertiliser to resale at higher prices.
EACC spokesperson Mr Yasin Amaru said cartels are obtaining the fertiliser from NCPB and hording it to cash in on its scarcity.
He said the practice involves a well-connected string of individuals who are denying genuine farmers an opportunity to acquire the fertiliser.
“This is sabotaging the government’s efforts to ensure food security in the country because majority of bona fide farmers fail to access the input,” said Mr Amaru.
The government has set up three plants in Mombasa, Nakuru and Eldoret to start production and blending of planting and top-dressing fertiliser to help cut on import costs and reduce subsidies needed to make fertilisers affordable to farmers.