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Maize production to decline by 30 per cent as farmers face shortage of two million bags of fertilizer

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Farmers in Kenya’s bread basket of Rift Valley face a shortage of two million bags of fertilizer at the ongoing planting season in a move that could jeopardize maize harvests and lead to shortage of the commodity at a time when 3.4m Kenyans are staring at starvation.

“We are worried that this shortage in addition to invasion by fall armyworm could cause a 30 per cent drop in production of maize this year,” said Kipkorir Menjo, the Director of Kenya Farmers Association.

In 2017, Kenya’s maize production declined by 4.2m bags in the western region due to drought and fall armyworm invasion which was detected across 27 counties resulting in losses of up to $120m according to the United States department of agriculture.

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Last week, the ministry of agriculture flagged of fertilizer to the high production areas of Uasin Gishu, Nandi, and Trans Nzoia among other counties with a 50kg bag retailing at Sh1600 recommended by the National Cereals and Produce Board.

In this, Uasin Gishu County has been allocated 362,000 bags against a demand of more than one million bags. Trans Nzoia has been allocated 193,000 bags out of 400,000 bags needed by farmers in the region. Nandi County will receive 59,000 bags against a demand of about 200,000 bags of the subsidized fertilizer.

More than 30,000 bags of the fertilizer is delivered to Eldoret’s National Cereals and Produce Board daily but farmers scramble for it due to inadequate supply.

Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia counties combined produce over 40 per cent of Kenya’s total maize production and are thus considered the country’s grain baskets.

Farmers in the North Rift started planting their crops in early march at the onset of the long rains with statistics indicating that more than 80 per cent of Kenyan farmers depend on rains to plant their crops.

According to the ministry of agriculture, Kenya consumes at least three million bags of maize monthly with 70 per cent of the population dependent on agriculture.

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