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Fertilizer subsidy, a huge relief to tea farmers

The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has welcomed President Kenyatta’s recent directive allocating Sh1 billion towards fertilizer subsidy for tea farmers.

KTDA Chairman, David Ichoho, said that the move was a significant step towards lowering the cost of tea farming’s primary input which would in turn enhance their socio-economic welfare.

“This directive will ensure that all small holder tea farmers under KTDA umbrella have access to the much needed fertilizer at a much lower cost. It will ensure money in their pockets while at the same time enabling them to enhance tea production,” he said.

While announcing the new economic stimulus plan, the president directed the National Treasury to allocate Sh1 billion in support of fertilizer subsidy for tea farmers heralding lower prices of the input.

This means that the cost of NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) fertilizer which is mostly used for tea farming will reduce by Sh600 for every 50Kg bag. The current price of a 50Kg bag of fertilizer ranges from Sh3,000 and Sh3,100.

The Chairman noted that KTDA had concluded the importation and distribution of 65,000 tons of fertilizer (1.5 million 50 Kg bags), while an additional 21,000 tons was being procured locally to bridge the deficit.

Ichoho noted that the president’s directive builds on gains already being made in the tea sub-sector through the ongoing reforms.

Some of the ongoing key reforms include the increase in the price of tea at the Mombasa auction which has been attributed to the introduction of the reserve price regime whose aim is to enhance earnings for farmers.

In July this year, KTDA introduced a reverse price of 2.43 US Dollars per kilo of tea. The price was informed by the deteriorating market that had seen selling prices of tea slip below the cost of production and it was meant to cushion farmers.

The Chairman noted that the market continues to positively respond to the reverse price amidst a production drop.

By October 12 this year, tea prices for factories managed by KTDA hit an average of 3.07 US dollars in the tea auction in Mombasa.

The agency says that prices have recovered from the average of 1.90 US dollars in the period preceding the introduction of the reverse price.

“We are encouraged by the improved prices at the auction which means our over 600,000 farmers are likely to earn better returns this financial year,” said Ichocho.

By Wangari Mwangi

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