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Agricultural committee commences inspection visits of depots in 16 counties

The National Assembly’s Departmental Committee on Agriculture and Livestock Friday commenced inspection visits to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots across 16 counties to conduct an inquiry on the fertiliser subsidy program.

The inquiry was informed by complaints by farmers across the country that some unscrupulous suppliers had delivered sub-standard fertiliser in NCPB depots.

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The Committee has already sought witness statements from NCPB, the Kenya Bureau of Standards, and the top brass of the companies suspected to have supplied the sub-standard fertiliser.

Friday’s inspection tours saw the Committee which was conducting the exercise in two sub-committees, visit depots in Narok, Bomet, Embu and Meru counties.

At Kilgoris, Ndanai and Sotik depots where a sub-committee led by the Agriculture Committee’s Vice Chair, Brighton Yegon visited, the legislators received submissions from farmers who had purchased ‘GPC Original Plus Organic Fertilizer’ which is manufactured by Silica Booster Limited and whose sale the government had temporarily stopped on the account that it does not meet the Kenyan standards.

According to the farmers, the product which the Committee has since established is a soil amendment and conditioner, had altered the texture and colour of the soil.

They expressed fears that the conditioner may affect their yields and called on the Committee to facilitate soil testing in all the areas it had been distributed.

While thanking the government for the fertilizer subsidy program, they underscored the need for the relevant government agencies to tighten the scrutiny of all fertilisers supplied in the country including that which is not under the subsidy program, to cushion farmers from unscrupulous suppliers.

On his part, Justice Kemei ( Sigowet-Soin) called on the farmers who had purchased the conditioner to come out and have their details recorded, to facilitate the process of compensation.

“We want to urge all farmers who had purchased this product or any other fertiliser from the NCPB depots to come out and register their complaints.
We want to conduct a thorough probe and to get to the bottom of this matter to ensure this does not happen again”, he stated.

At the same time, the farmers have appealed to the Committee to cause the supply of certified seeds together with the fertilizer to enhance quality control.

While noting that the liberalization of the supply of certified seeds by the Kenya Seed Company had led to the proliferation of fake certified seeds, the farmers noted that the vice was negativity impacting on the government’s food security plan.

They called on NCPB to partner with the Kenya Seed Company to provide certified seeds alongside the fertilizer.

“It’s pointless for the government to supply us with subsidized fertiliser without supplying us with certified seeds. Some of the stockists appointed by Kenya Seed Company are supplying fake seeds but in branded Kenya Seed bags”, Rashid a farmer in Kilgoris told the Committee.

Yegon and Patrick Osero (Borabu) also called on NCPB to scale up public education on the different types of fertilizers and their uses through initiatives such as open days for farmers and display of the various types of fertilisers that they stock.

This was after the farmers complained that they were unaware of the types of fertilizers stocked by NCPB and thus were prone to purchasing the wrong fertiliser, especially because they also have no details on the quality of their soils.

“I think it is important to sensitize the farmers on the types of fertilizers that you have in stock. This will help them make an informed decision when purchasing fertiliser”, the lawmakers urged.

On Saturday the Committee is set to visit depots in Kericho, Nakuru, Kirinyaga and Kiambu counties.

 

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