Rift Valley Regional Commissioner (RC) Dr. Abdi Hassan has appealed to farmers in the region to exploit the government subsidy fertilizer programme to boost the country’s food security.
Hassan made the appeal in Kitale town, during his inspection tour of the Kitale ASK show ground, which will host the national launch of the government subsidy programme, slated for next week.
The RC held several separate meetings with area leaders including the County Governor George Natembeya, County Commissioner Mathias Rioba and the Kwanza Constituency MP Ferdinand Wanyonyi.
President Dr. William Ruto is expected in Trans Nzoia County next Tuesday, to preside over the fertilizer subsidy launch, whose preparations are at the final stages.
Speaking at the Governor’s office, Hassan challenged farmers countrywide to ensure that they do not miss out on the ongoing subsidized fertilizer registration exercise.
“The main objective of this government programme is to enable farmers access affordable farm inputs, reduce the cost of crop production, hence increase the country’s food basket,” he noted.
The RC regretted the country was being forced to import food yet it had adequate arable land with the capacity to produce adequate food crop for both local consumption and the international market.
“For instance, Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu counties are key agricultural counties capable of producing enough food crop to sustain the country’s food security,” noted Hassan, who blamed high cost of production for working against the same.
“The president is committed to putting in place various intervention measures, to address the challenges of cost of production, which have affected the local agricultural sector over the years,” he added.
The Kwanza MP echoed the same sentiments, while urging both the National and County governments to employ agricultural extension officers in order to continuously capacity-build farmers.
“One of the reasons the agricultural sector is underperforming in the country is due to inadequate knowledge among rural farmers, especially in regard to the ever changing farming trends occasioned by the fast changing technology, hence the urgent need for recruitment of trained extension officers,” observed Wanyonyi, who also chairs the National Assembly committee on agriculture.
On his part, Natembeya pledged to support the government’s initiative, saying, “As a county we have also set aside some funds that will be used to procure adequate fertilizers that will be distributed to farmers at subsidized rates.”
The governor cautioned agro-stockists charged with the responsibility of selling the GOK subsidized fertilizers to farmers against engaging in fraudulent activities.
“We have in the past heard of cases in which some selfish stockists inflate prices of government subsidized farm inputs, before selling the same to unsuspecting farmers,” Natembeya noted.
However, the County Commissioner assured farmers the distribution of the commodity will be fair and transparent, amid reports that the government has set aside a total of one million bags of subsidized fertilizers for Trans Nzoia County.
By Maurice Aluda