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More fertilizer for tea farmers

NAIROBI, Kenya, June 4 – The one-year wait for fertilizers by small scale tea farmers came to an end Thursday after a ship carrying the second batch of 28,500 metric tons of fertilizer imported by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) docked at the Port of Mombasa.

Distribution of the consignment to the more than 500,000 small-scale tea farmers is already underway through their respective KTDA-managed factories.

General Manager of Chai Trading Company – a KTDA subsidiary based in Mombasa – Simon Gikang’a says discharge of the second consignment of fertilizer from the ship was expected to take about 10 days.

“The first batch, amounting to 28,500 metric tons, arrived in the country on May 1 and has already reached the farmers through their factories across the country,” Mr Gikanga said.

A statement from KTDA indicated that this second batch is the final one and would bring the total amount of fertilizer imported this year to 57,000 metric tons.

The arrival of the final batch marks the end of more than one year of waiting for the small scale tea farmers who were not able to apply fertilizer last year due to skyrocketing global prices.

As a result KTDA was forced to suspend the annual fertilizer procurement to protect farmers’ incomes from being wiped out by high production costs.

The 57,000 metric tons of NPK 26:5:5 chemically compounded fertilizer was procured through international tender early this year after prices dropped from a high of Sh66,016 per metric tons in April 2008 to Sh25,300 per metric tons in January this year. 

The final price of a 50 kg bag of fertilizer will be determined after factoring in the prevailing exchange rate, the cost of handling and warehousing, and transportation to the respective factories across the country.

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To secure the best price for farmers, KTDA procures fertilizer in bulk on their behalf through competitive international bidding and distributes it through their respective factory companies.

This also helps to ease farmers’ burden of payment since KTDA provides the fertilizer on credit sourced from local financial institutions.

Consequently farmers pay for part of the fertilizer cost through deductions spread over 12 months from their monthly payments for green leaf deliveries.

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