With some 100,000 tonnes of subsidized subsidised fertiliser still held up at the Port of Mombasa, farmers are now wondering whether they shall be able to access it ahead of the planting season.
Government officials say that the cargo is still in Mombasa due to shortage of space at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).
The cargo should be with the farmers by April, when the planting season starts in North Rift the food hub of Kenya.
Officials told a Kenyan daily that the shortage of storage space has been caused by the ongoing procurement of maize across major NCPB depots in the country.
“We already have fertiliser in Mombasa but we cannot transfer it to other parts of the country because there is no available space for storage,” said Agriculture principal secretary Dr Richard Lesiyampe in an interview with Kenya’s Business Daily.
The PS said some of the maize could be relocated to regions where fertiliser is not needed in order to create room at the depots.
Currently farmers are preparing their land in readiness for planting. A section of farmers from the North Rift early this week raised concerns that the delay in distribution of the subsidised fertiliser would affect them adversely.
“If the fertilizer does not arrive in good time, we might be forced to purchase from commercial stores which is expensive,”
The subsidy programme has also been found to have loopholes with genuine farmers missing out because of unscrupulous traders who collude with NCPB officials to buy huge volumes of fertiliser for resale.
In 2016, the government suspended over 20 managers at the board who had been suspected of fraud.
The aim of the subsidy fertiliser is to lower the cost of production for farmers.
The NCPB has bought 2.7 million bags of maize since the exercise began last year. This is the highest purchase made in a single harvest season.
Planting is expected to start in April this year with the weatherman predicting that rains will come on time.
The delay has in the past forced growers to opt for expensive commercial input sold in agrovets to avoid late planting.