Small tea farmers will save during the brief rainy season starting in October after a fall in fertilizer prices.
The Minister of Agriculture (CS) Peter Munya was optimistic after the Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) procured 86,288 tons of fertilizer to help farmers spread it during the short rainy season from October.
After a tour of the facility, CS Munya reached out to tea farmers on the grounds of the Kapkatet tea factory in Bureti subdistrict and said a 1 billion shunt fertilizer subsidy had been granted to cushion 600,000 small tea farmers from the high cost of fertilizer.
“In order to cushion the small tea producers against the high fertilizer costs, KTDA has asked the government through my ministry for a fertilizer subsidy of Sh 1 billion, which will reduce fertilizer costs by Sh 600 from Sh3,073 to Sh2. 473 per 50 kilogram bag, ”said Munya.
He said that the retail price of fertilizers for the current fiscal year increased 54% from 1.996 Sh. in 2019 to 3,073 Sh. increased per 50 kg sack in 2021 and is therefore unsustainable because farmers are working at a loss.
Munya noted that the government, through the ministry and in collaboration with other government agencies, is seeking to reduce operating costs in order to increase growers’ income and encourage significant savings for tea producers.
Through the subsidy, CS Munya added that KTDA will work with Kenya Railways to cover the port and transport costs of the imported fertilizer on SGR from Mombasa to Naivasha to the respective factories, as well as tea from Naivasha to Mombasa for auction on the export markets.
In an interview with a tea farmer, Emily Kirui said she would spend almost Sh 16,000 to buy five bags of fertilizer to use on her 1 acre tea farm, but the subsidy greatly reduced her input costs to Sh 11,200.
“I appreciate our agricultural CS for the restructuring and reforms in the tea sector. He did a good job of looking for ways to reduce the cost of farm inputs like fertilizers. That day was a good day for our tea farmers. My tea farm is an acre and I would buy five bags of fertilizer for each at Sh3,200 to apply to my tea, but with the new reduction, I’ll be using about four of them at the subsidized price, ”Kirui said.
Smallholders account for more than half of Kenya’s total tea production, with fertilization being the key to high quality leaf production.
Kenya is the leading exporter of black tea, selling 95 percent of the tea leaves in the world market.
By Sarah Njagi