Smallholder tea farmers are set to make a saving during the short rains season starting October following a drop in fertilizer prices.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Peter Munya expressed optimism after Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) procured 86, 288 metric tonnes of fertilizer to assist farmers for application during the short rains season starting October.
Addressing tea farmers at Kapkatet Tea Factory grounds within Bureti Sub-county after a tour of the facility, CS Munya said a fertilizer subsidy of Sh1billion had been effected to cushion the 600,000 small scale tea farmers against the high cost of the fertilizer.
“In order to cushion the small-scale tea producers against the high cost of fertilizers, KTDA through my Ministry has requested the government for fertilizer subsidy amounting to Sh 1 billion which will reduce the cost of fertilizer by Sh600 from Sh3, 073 to Sh2,473 per 50kilogram bag,” said Munya.
He said the retail price for fertilizer for the current financial year had increased by 54% from Sh 1,996 in 2019 to Sh3,073 in 2021 per 50kg bag and therefore 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 for reduction of farm inputs costs to enhance growers’ earnings and promote significant savings for the tea producers.
Through the subsidization, CS Munya added that KTDA will work together with Kenya Railways to shoulder the port and transport costs of the imported fertilizer on SGR from Mombasa to Naivasha to the respective factories, as well as transport tea from Naivasha to Mombasa for auction to the export markets.
In an interview with a tea farmer Emily Kirui said she would spend close to Sh16,000 to purchase five bags of fertilizer to use on her one-acre tea farm but the subsidy greatly reduced her input costs to Sh11, 200.
“I am appreciating our Agriculture CS for the restructuring and reforms in the tea sector. He has done well in seeking ways of reducing costs of farm inputs like fertilizer. This day has been a good day for our tea farmers. My tea farm is one-acre and I would buy five bags of fertilizer each at Sh3,200 to use to apply on my tea but with the new reduction, I will use roughly four of them at the subsidized price,” said Kirui.
Small scale farmers account for more than half of Kenya’s total tea output and with fertilizer application being key to quality leaf production.
Kenya is the leading exporter of black tea, selling 95 per cent of tea leaves to the world market.
By Sarah Njagi