In Summary
  • A majority of farmers will buy the input just before or on the onset of the rains. Unfortunately, that is the period it is very expensive.
  • Because of this, many of the country’s farms don’t produce as much food as they should. So, farm incomes are low as consumer prices remain high.
  • Prices soar for a number of reasons that have little to do with the input itself, such as costly transport, fluctuating exchange rates, and delays at Mombasa port.
  • Scientific evidence should be used to set appropriate limits that will protect food safety and still allow the farmers to meet the needs of our growing population.

It is common knowledge that without fertiliser, crops will not do well. Farmers in Kenya use four main types of fertiliser: DAP, CAN, Urea and NPK.

Just as children need healthy diets to flourish, plants require special nutrients to produce high yields. Kenya is in the middle of buying fertiliser for the next season.

Though maize is the primary crop in Kenya, farmers’ demand for fertiliser is not comparable to that of plantation crop owners – coffee, tea, sugarcane.

This is because maize farmers are largely smallholder and tend to use a much lower proportion of the recommended fertiliser quantities. Demand for fertiliser by maize farmers is also influenced by the timing of the planting season.

A majority of farmers will buy the input just before or on the onset of the rains. Unfortunately, that is the period it is very expensive.

Consequently, they do not use enough fertiliser, with many hardly using any. Expensive fertiliser leads to lower use of the manure.

Because of this, many of the country’s farms don’t produce as much food as they should. So, farm incomes are low as consumer prices remain high.

President Uhuru Kenyatta wants to make sure Kenyans have the food they need by the end of his term in 2022.

The Cabinet approval of commercial growing of Bt cotton on December 19 is important as it signals Mr Kenyatta’s keenness in putting money in farmers’ pockets. Yet no single approach will end all our food security problems.

We must have a robust approach to agriculture that involves access to technology and an improved infrastructure, more financing opportunities and a lot more fertiliser.

Page 1 of 2