The manager in charge of the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depot at Lugari Station in Lugari Sub-County, Kakamega County, has denied claims that the subsidized fertilizer meant to cushion farmers is being sold out to business people.
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Mr. William Jagongo, who took over the management of the depot in 2021, also rubbished claims that the depot management has been mistreating farmers by asking them back and forth every time they visit the cereals store.
A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, alleged that the manager is colluding with unscrupulous business people to sell out the subsidized fertilizer in bulk.
“A person from Lugari Centre receives bags of fertilizers from the depot almost every day yet she doesn’t own a piece of land in Lugari. Farmers are stranded not knowing what to do. Like yesterday (Monday) people were there the whole day until late. The manager told them to come today (Tuesday) only to find the store closed and then told there was no fertilizer and that they should go back on Thursday,” the source said.
The source further claimed that there is a network of cartels benefitting from the fertilizer at the expense of farmers.
“Cartels transport the fertilizer at night. Farmers who manage to get it have to pay Sh7000 instead of the required Sh2,700,” the source said.
A farmer who spoke to the Western Kenya Times backed up the claims, saying that she has been at the cereal board store several times and was turned back all the time.
“We are going through a lot, spending more than necessary on transport back and forth the cereals board store. We submitted our names and paid the required registration fee (KShs 2700) but we are yet to receive the fertilizer. We get information that people from as far as Uasin Gishu County come for our fertilizer. There’s a business person here who takes as much as 100 bags to sell in his shop,” the farmer said.
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Mr. Jagongo dismissed all the allegations and said he has been giving out the fertilizer based on a first come first served basis, and that no business person is profiting from the subsidized product.
“At least 700 farmers from Lugari have received the fertilizer so far. Those complaining are just impatient. We always make it clear to farmers how and when they will receive the inputs. We are very transparent here and what a farmer needs to give us is just their details and the required Sh2700,” he told Western Kenya Times on phone.
In May, the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, doubled the number of bags of fertilizers a single farmer can purchase under a subsidy program from 20 to 40.
Mr. Jagongo said the maximum he can give a single farmer is 10 bags which go with the acreage and thus no one is receiving the inputs in bulk for business.
As a requirement, farmers are required to register in a move to lock out unscrupulous traders from buying and selling it to farmers for profit.
In May, the government set aside Sh5.7 billion to subsidize 2.28 million 50-kg bags of fertilizer for farmers growing food crops to support the cultivation of 1.13 million acres. Farmers by then were required to pay Sh2,800 per bag compared to a market price of Sh6,400.
Sam Oduor is the editor-in-chief at the Western Kenya Times who leverages the power of the Internet in telling stories that shape opinions.