Tea growers to benefit from subsidized fertilizers – Kenya News Agency
Small-scale tea farmers are expected to save money during the short rainy season that begins in October following lower fertilizer prices.
Cabinet Secretary of Agriculture (CS) Peter Munya expressed optimism after the Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) purchased 86,288 tonnes of fertilizer to help farmers apply it during the short rainy season starting in October.
Speaking to tea growers on the grounds of the Kapkatet tea factory in Bureti sub-county after a visit to the facility, CS Munya said a fertilizer subsidy of 1 billion shillings had been paid to protect 600,000 small-scale tea farmers from the high cost of fertilizer.
âIn order to cushion the small tea growers against the high cost of fertilizers, the KTDA, through my ministry, has asked the government for a fertilizer subsidy in the amount of 1 billion shillings, which will reduce the cost of fertilizer. Fertilizer cost of Sh 600 from Sh 3,073 to Sh 2. 473 per 50 kilogram bag, âMunya said.
He said the retail price of fertilizer for the current fiscal year increased by 54% from Sh1996 in 2019 to Sh3.073 in 2021 per 50kg bag and therefore was not sustainable as farmers were operating at a loss.
Munya noted that the government, through the ministry and in collaboration with other state agencies, seeks to reduce the costs of agricultural inputs in order to improve producer incomes and promote significant savings for producers of tea.
Through the grant, CS Munya added that KTDA will work with Kenya Railways to cover the cost of shipping and transporting imported fertilizers on SGR from Mombasa to Naivasha to the respective factories, as well as transporting the tea from Naivasha to Mombasa for auction at export markets.
In an interview with a tea farmer, Emily Kirui said she would spend nearly 16,000 shillings to buy five bags of fertilizer to use on her one-acre tea farm, but the grant significantly reduced her costs of ‘inputs at 11, 200 shillings.
âI appreciate our CS Agriculture for restructuring and reforms in the tea sector. He has been very successful in looking for ways to reduce the costs of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers. It was a good day for our tea producers today. My tea farm is one acre and I would buy five bags of fertilizer each at 3,200 shillings to apply to my tea, but with the new reduction, I will use about four at the subsidized price, âKirui said.
Smallholder farmers account for more than half of Kenya’s total tea production, and the application of fertilizers is key to producing quality leaves.
Kenya is the largest exporter of black tea, selling 95 percent of tea leaves to the world market.
By Sarah Njagi