The fertilizer distribution business in Kenya is being operated by cartel networks, which, coupling with poor roads, have made it difficult for new products to reach the farmers in good time.
Yara, the Norwegian brand that has distributorships in most of the world, has been in Kenya for two decades, but still has not managed to get its products in as many places as possible.
The company currently sells 2-3 million tonnes of fertilizer in Kenya per year, and hopes to break through to the market in coming years.
“It is a tough business and most stockists are not willing, either by influence or by their own accord, to introduce new products, even though they are better than what they are used to,” said James Kraske, the Yara Country Manager for Kenya and Uganda.
Yara promises a return of four times the input for farmers who use their products, and this efficacy has seen them dominate the European market, where they supply close to 50 per cent of all fertiliser used in the region.
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However, penetrating the Kenyan market has been challenging because of poor infrastructure and lose of product to theft at the ports and on transit, and poor handling.
“The other day we were receiving a shipment in Mombasa and as much as we tried to maintain the conditions favourable for fertilizer handling, we lost some of it due to the lack of equipment at the port to keep the humidity in check,” said Kraske.
But Kraske is hopeful that with time, the lines between producer and stockists will be straightened, allowing each entrant a fair chance at the market.