By KBC Reporter
The Kenya Tea Development Agency has reduced fertilizer prices for small scale tea farmers by 35 percent to 1,492 shillings for a 50kg bag of NPK fertilizer down from 2,300 shillings last year.
KTDA reckons the drop in fertilizer prices for tea farmers has been as a result of centralized sourcing of the fertilizer by the agency as well as a decline in the global prices of products such as oil and natural gas.
Small scale tea farmers have over the years complained about the high cost of production which has mainly been attributed to the high cost of fertilizer.
While the sector has been recording growth and improved overall earnings, the high cost of production has seen a reduction in bonuses for farmers.
The Kenya Tea Development Agency has been centrally sourcing fertilizer for over 560,000 small scale tea farmers to ensure the prices are competitive.
This year, the agency managed to secure fertilizer from Russia, which small scale tea farmers who deliver green leaf to KTDA managed factories will access at 1,497 shillings for a 50 kg bag of NPK fertilizer, a 35 percent drop from the 2,300 shillings the fertilizer was retailing at last year. The new price is the lowest the fertilizer has retailed at in seven years.
KTDA has attributed the drop in the price of fertilizer for tea farmers this year to the decline in the global commodity prices of products such as crude oil and natural gas which are some of key components in the manufacture of fertilizer.
KTDA imported 74,800 metric tons of fertilizer worth 2.2 billion shillings from Russia. According to the tea agency, the final price of the fertilizer to farmers will include costs of clearing and forwarding, financing, handling, port charges as transportation.
KTDA Chief Executive Officer Lerionka Tiampati says the reduction of fertilizer prices for small scale tea farmers is expected to bolster tea production and increases the quality of green leaf which in return will boost tea earnings by reducing the cost of production.
The tea agency says the quantity of fertilizer a farmer receives depends on the number of tea bushes owned.
On average, a 50kg bag of fertilizer is applied to 700 bushes. This reduction however does not apply to other farmers across the country who will still access fertilizer at the current market price which is between 1,800 shillings and 2,500 shillings.