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Growers stare at fertiliser crisis as Kiunjuri blames Treasury

Martin Mwita @MwitaMartin

Maize farmers will have to shoulder the full costs of fertiliser ahead of next month’s planting season, latest developments at the Ministry of Agriculture have indicated, as blame games continue to take centre stage on the failed importation of subsidised farm input.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri yesterday pointed at his National Treasury counterpart Henry Rotich, blaming him for failing to make available the much-needed funds to import the commodity.

Kiunjuri (pictured) who appeared before the National Assembly Agriculture Committee said his ministry had applied for an additional Sh3.68 billion for procurement of the subsidised fertiliser, an amount Treasury has failed to release. This now leaves farmers in the hands of commercial dealers where the commodity is selling at between Sh3, 200 and Sh3,500 for every 50 kilogramme bag.

The commercial prices are about 94 per cent or close to double the prices under the government subsidy programme where a 50 kg bag would go for Sh1,800, a big blow to the farmers who are preparing to plant ahead of the long rains set to begin in March.

Kiunjuri said his ministry had planned to import at least 2.7 million- 50 kilogrammes of fertiliser which would have been made available before the onset of the planting season.

He told the committee chaired by Mandera West MP Adan Haji that his ministry has since August last year been pushing to procure at least 166,750 tonnes of the commodity.

“I was instead told by Treasury to operate within the approved budget of Sh4.3 billion,” Kiunjuri told MPs.

A meeting between the two ministries failed to bear fruits, the CS revealed, saying Treasury cleared his ministry to procure but failed to provide funds.

“The ministry could not proceed because the required funds have not been provided for by the National Treasury,” said Kiunjuri.

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