The government is betting on short rains to improve food supply in the country, easing the cost of living among many struggling households.
It has outlined a strategy including coming up with a framework for enhanced production and distribution of certified seeds. Also, it will work with the devolved units (Counties) in last mile distribution of subsidized fertilisers.
“As the nation approaches the onset of short rains, and in efforts to realize higher yields, the Cabinet has approved the framework for enhanced production and distribution of certified seeds,” reads a Cabinet Memo dispatched on Tuesday.
“We have also approved the partnership between the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) and County Governments for last mile distribution of subsidized fertilizer that is retailing at Sh2500.” Under the new framework, County Governments will provide grassroots supply outlets that are easily accessible by all registered farmers.
According to the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), access to government subsidized fertiliser among sampled farmers by the think tank stood at 49 per cent in July 2023 compared to 43 per cent and 29 per cent reported in May and March 2023, respectively.
However, CBK report noted that the fertilizer subsidy program has been hit by several challenges with non-recipients citing a lag between the date of receipt of the notification and redemption of the subsidized fertiliser, lack of finances to redeem the voucher, wrong timing, long queues, long distances, corruption, not being contacted despite registration, title deed, and obtaining information late.
Some farmers raised concerns on the Ministry of Agriculture using the North Rift season as the benchmark for issuing the subsidized planting and top-dressing fertiliser, arguing that the regions are not homogenous and there could be timing differences in planting and harvesting.
Others noted that the utilization of the subsidized fertiliser is at times limited by lack of a sustainable water source given the dependence on rainwater.
During the Tuesday meeting conducted outside Nairobi at the Kakamega State Lodge, the Cabinet welcomed the continued reduction in the cost of food. The relief in the household spend on food is attributed to crop maturity and harvests in the South Rift, Nyanza, Central, Eastern, and Coast Regions. The cabinet authorized acquisition of mobile dryers to aid post-harvest management of this year’s harvest.
To further enhance price discovery of agricultural produce, Cabinet also sanctioned the expedited implementation of warehouse Receipting System.
Cabinet also authorized the operationalization pf the newly promulgated Strategic Food Reserve Regulations, 2023.
“Under the framework, the government will purchase at least 1 million bags of maize to be maintained as part of our nation’s strategic food reserve. The off-take price for the year 2023 crop will be announced in due course.”