Farmers affiliated with Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) are set to receive cheap fertiliser for their crop after the agency dispatched its second batch of the commodity at the Mombasa Port.

The fertiliser, totaling 45,232 tonnes and comprising over 900,000 bags, is destined for distribution to KTDA farmers via the Standard Gauge Railway to Nairobi before being disbursed to farmers upcountry.

This shipment is part of KTDA’s larger order of 92,737 tonnes of fertiliser for the crop year 2023/2024.

Speaking at the flagging-off ceremony, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithuka Linturi highlighted the government’s commitment to supporting farmers.

“We have flagged off over 45,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser, translating to over 900,000 bags, to be used by our tea farmers. The government is subsidizing the cost of fertilizer, allowing farmers to purchase it at Ksh2,500 per bag.”

KTDA Holdings Chairman Enos Njeru expressed satisfaction during the exercise. He acknowledged the challenges in the global shipping and logistics space but highlighted the introduction of 25 kg bags, an adjustment from the traditional 50 kg bags, to facilitate easier handling during application.

Mr Njeru also revealed proactive measures taken to avoid delays in future deliveries. “To ensure timely delivery to our farmers, we have started early procurement of next year’s consignment,” he said.

He expressed gratitude to the government for the continued support and subsidisation of fertiliser costs for smallholder tea farmers.

The NPK 26:5:5 chemically compounded fertilizer, directly procured from Russia, will be bagged at the port before distribution to farmers. This approach ensures efficient delivery up to the closest tea buying centers without additional transportation costs for farmers.

The rising cost of natural gas, unfavorable exchange rates, global supply constraints, high crude oil costs, and shipping expenses have negatively impacted fertiliser prices.

KTDA’s bulk procurement through competitive international bidding allows more than 650,000 small-scale tea farmers to access high-quality fertiliser at competitive prices.

To further assist farmers, KTDA operates a fertiliser credit scheme, enabling them to pay in installments over several months. This eases the financial burden associated with fertilizer, a significant input cost in tea farming.