The Ministry of Agriculture has set aside Sh2 billion to be used by farmers to acquire fertiliser using e-vouchers from agro-vet shops in a bid to curb corruption and offer growers quality inputs.
This comes even as the government extends the number of crops covered under the subsidy programme to include Irish potato, coffee and rice other than maize, which has been enjoying the largest share of the cheap fertiliser.
Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga said part of the funds would be used in soil testing and provision of lime to correct acidity blamed for declining production.
Prof Boga said the planned supply model would also provide zones with fertiliser type that matches their soil profile in a quest to deal with declining fertility.
“We are rolling out the issuance of e-vouchers to farmers in the next planting season to ensure that these fertiliser benefit farmers and get the type that suits their soils,” he said.
The State planned to roll out the e-voucher this year but the plan did not materialise even as farmers missed out on the subsidised fertiliser.
The e-voucher payment will spread out distribution from the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots — whose staff had been accused of repackaging the subsidised fertiliser and selling it at market rate.
Under this scheme, the ministry had indicated that farmers will buy e-vouchers from the Agriculture offices in their counties and later redeem them at agro-shops for the subsidised fertilisers. It is 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 percent discount on the market price of Sh3,000.
The e-voucher could also curb graft linked to the selling of subsidised fertiliser to non-farmers by the NCPB officials. The NCPB managers in western, North Rift and South Rift were suspended last year amid revelations that they sold State-funded fertiliser to traders who repackaged for sale at market rate.
In October 2018, Edward Ouko, the then Auditor-General said the National Cereals and Produce Board could not provide verifiable documents for audit to confirm the quantity of fertiliser bought, the quality sold to farmers and the selling prices under the Sh2.1 billion disbursed to the agency.