65,000 tonnes of fertilizer imported by Kenya Tea Development Agency Management Services Limited (KTDA MS) for smallholder farmers in Kenya landed at the Mombasa port, awaiting packaging and distribution.

The NPK 26:5:5 chemically compounded fertilizer was procured directly from Ameropa AG of Romania and Indagro SA of Switzerland to the tune of USD29 million (C&F Mombasa).

The cost of fertiliser has been adversely affected by the rising cost of natural gas, which is used in the manufacture of NPK chemically compounded fertilizer, unfavourable exchange rates, global supply constraints, high crude oil costs and the cost of shipment among other factors.

The final cost of a 50kg bag of fertilizer will be determined once clearing and transport costs to respective tea factories across Kenya and marine and overland insurance costs are factored in.

The supply of this year’s fertilizer follows the floating of a competitive international tender early this year and a local tender to supply an extra 21,000 tonnes of fertilizer has been issued to satisfy the unmet demand of the commodity.

Application of fertiliser to tea bushes at the onset of short rains is essential to ensure consistent high quality and quantity of green leaf, which is necessary for premium tea production.

KTDA says it has ensured fast, cost-effective and convenient delivery to all registered smallholder farmers with arrangements made with transporters to move the commodity to factories straight from the port.

Last year, the tea agency did not procure fertilizer for smallholder farmers as a result of logistical challenges presented by the then-emerging Covid-19 pandemic.

KTDA procures fertilizer in bulk for more than 630,000 small scale tea farmers, who are the shareholders of its managed factories, through a competitive bidding process.

The fertiliser is then distributed to the farmers through their respective factory companies enabling the small-scale tea farmers to access high-quality fertiliser affordably and reliably.

According to KTDA, its fertilizer credit scheme enables the farmers to pay for the fertiliser they have ordered for use on their farms in instalments over several months to ease their burden.

KTDA Holdings chairman David Ichoho noted that his board has been engaging the government to get a subsidy for the fertiliser to make it more affordable for farmers.