KITALE, June 1 – A syndicate has been unearthed in Kitale where traders are reselling cheap fertilizer imported by the government at exorbitant prices to unsuspecting farmers.
The fertiliser is intended to help subsidise the cost of the commodity during the planting season, for farmers largely affected by the recent political turmoil.
Members of the public led by officials of farmer organisations and human rights groups as well as politicians unearthed the racket, and assisted in arresting some traders who were found with the government branded top dressing fertilizer.
The traders were selling the government-imported farm input at Sh2,150, which is Sh50 less than the price other commercial products are retailing at.
A proprietor of one of the go-downs in which 800 fertilizer bags bearing the National Cereals Produce Board (NCPB) logo were found, claimed that the product was sold to him by a farmer who had bought some surplus from the board.
He however could not produce any documents to support his claims and was arrested.
Later, the farmer said to have sold the commodity verified the story, but could not explain how he obtained the huge chunk of the rare commodity that is rationed to upto ten bags per farmer.
Upon taking over as Minister for Agriculture, William Ruto promised that the government would use Sh3 billion to import top dressing fertilizer of Calcium Aluminium Nitrate composition to retail at all NCPB outlets at Sh1,650.
However after the manure arrived in the country, most farmers could only secure between 2-3 bags of it.
When contacted for comment, NCPB Public Relations Officer Kipserem Maritim expressed his shock.
“I cannot believe it, I am getting in touch with our chief security officer to head to Kitale and get the bottom of all this, it is incredible,” he said.
The farmers through their chairman, Tom Nyagichanga, are calling for an investigation into the matter.
“We do not just want the small fish on the firing line, the big fish too must be made accountable,” he uttered.
Meanwhile, leaders in the larger Trans-Nzoia district chastised the traders arrested for selling the NCPB fertilizer in Kitale town at exorbitant prices.
Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa has demanded that the traders’ licenses be revoked.
“We want the government to tell us how they have allowed fertilizer with branded NCPB bags to be sold while farmers are struggling to buy the commodity, which is very expensive.”