State inaction on fertilizer scam a great shame

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024 07:00 | By
Low produce in Kakamega linked to area’s high acidity levels in soils
A seedling being fertilized. PHOTO/Pexels

For more than a month now, farmers in some regions falling under the former Western, Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces have been grappling with the issue of fake fertilser they buy from the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).

It planting season in those areas and the farmers are finding it difficult to place their seeds in the soil because they have been sold fake fertiliser or are even unable to access it in NCPB stores because it is in short supply.

Yet, in spite of the numerous complaints, the government has done very little to address the concerns.
In fact, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has denied the existence of fake fertiliser in the country, and termed media reports to that effect as mere propaganda.

The closest the government has come to addressing the matter was via a letter from the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Kipronoh Ronoh to the NCPB managing director Joseph Kimote asking him to suspend the distribution of NPK fertiliser manufactured by Ken Chemicals Ltd.

Last Sunday, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi peripherally touched on the matter while presiding over a fundraiser in Bomet, where he told NCPB to stop taking the country in circles and instead arrest the culprits.

It is a great shame that this scam is unfolding in President William Ruto’s administration. A shame because Ruto has previously served as Minister for Agriculture and is a large scale farmer himself and, therefore, understands the sector very well.

What is more, agriculture is a central pillar in his bottom-up economic transformation manifesto.
When he took over power in September 2022, he announced that his government would subsidise fertiliser with a view to improving food production. I never heard him declare that the fertiliser would be fake.

That move actually paid dividends for in 2023, the country’s maize production increased by 200,300 acres and four million bags.

Come 2024 and fake fertiliser hit the country. That is untenable. It cannot be that Ruto prioritises agriculture in his economic agenda and then certain persons of influence running crucial agencies in his regime are shortchanging farmers by selling them fake fertiliser.

That is corruption, and it is growing legs very fast.
We had the sugar importation scam. Then came the edible oil scandal and later the Sh17 billion fuel heist.

It is unfortunate that the vices have been allowed to persist. One would have expected heads to have rolled now in the Ministry of Agriculture. They should. No more shilly-shallying. Linturi and his troops have let down the Kenyan farmer.

The writer is the Revise Editor, People Dail —[email protected]

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