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Tea farmers affected as global fertilizer prices rise by 15 per cent

TEA PICKING

Kenyan tea farmers are set to pay Sh2,000 for a 50kg bag of fertilizer up from Sh1,730 last year driven by rise in global fertilizer prices according to the Kenya Tea Development Agency who supply farmers with the product.

Data from KTDA indicate that the average landed cost for a ton of fertilizer at the port of Mombasa rose from Sh26,032 last year to Sh28,950 this year.

In 2016, farmers bought a 50kg bag of fertilizer from the agency at Sh1,493.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that the average prices of one ton of NPK fertilizer has been increasing since October last year from Sh25,200 to the current Sh26,000.

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Tea picking in Kenya. Courtesy

The rise in prices is attributes to the increase in crude oil prices from $52.51 to $68.31 according to online analytics website statista.com. Crude oil and natural gas are some of the ingredients used in manufacturing fertilizer.

KTDA has imported 84,770 tons of fertilizer to be distributed to over 600,000 smallholder tea farmers in the country.

Farmers are advised to apply the fertilizer at the onset of the short rains in September to boost production.

The area under tea increased by 6.5 per cent from 218.5 thousand hectares in 2016 to 232.7 thousand hectares in 2017 according to the Economic Survey Report of 2018.

However, production of tea reduced by seven per cent from 473.0 thousand tonnes in 2016 to 439.8 thousand tons in 2017.

In this, tea production by small holder growers decreased by 7.3 per cent to 246.1 thousand tons in 2017 while output within the tea estates declined by 6.6 per cent to 193.7 thousand tons over the same period.

 The depressed tea production was attributed to the drought that was experienced during the first half of 2017. The average yield for the small holder growers decreased from 2,086.4 kilograms per hectare in 2016 to 1,913.7 kilograms per hectare in 2017 while that within the tea estates decreased from 2,908.8 kilograms per hectare in 2016 to 2,603.5 kilograms per hectare in 2017.

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