According to Yara East Africa Country Manager James Craske, Kenya imports up to one million tones of maize annually which could be grown locally if the right measures are put in place.
Craske was speaking during the commemoration of the company’s twentieth anniversary since its launch in Kenya.
“A majority of farmers do not know how to use fertilizers. On the other hand, those who already use fertilizers have the tendency of using it wrongly,” Craske said.
To achieve the fete, Craske called out to the government to support fertilizer companies to reach more farmers and train them on fertilizer use.
“The government has done some things right such as good infrastructure. Five years ago, it was a nightmare to move fertilizer across the country. However, more needs to be done. The government should create an enabling environment that will encourage the fertilizer companies in the country to expand. This would also see more investors coming into the country,” he said.
On the company’s milestone of turning twenty years, Craske said that the international company was pleased with their progress so far.
“As Yara continues to grow, the company intends to develop the sector through capacity building for Kenyan farmers and also increasing farm profitability. These improvements are in line with Yara’s approach worldwide, where in 60 countries around the world, they deliver cost effective, crop nutrition programs for skilled farmers of food and cash crops alike.”
In the twenty years, Yara has managed to launch one of the biggest fertilizer companies in Kenya. According to Craske, the Kenyan arm of the international company serves Uganda too.
“Over the past two decades, Yara has focused on importing and distributing fertilizer to Kenyan farmers, particularly in the maize, coffee and tea growing regions, as a means to improve crop nutrition and soil fertility.”
It has not been smooth sailing for the company, however.
According to Craske, being such a big global brand, the company has had its products being counterfeited. “When you become big, there are people who will want to be associated with you. As for Yara, those people are counterfeiters. We have however employed measures that have seen Yara protect its products from such malicious people.”
Some of those measures include putting barcodes in all their fertilizers and registering all their licensed distributors.
The company has also forbidden distributors from repackaging the fertilizers bags into smaller quantities. Craske explained that the decision was made after the company realized that the quality of fertilizer was being tampered with once the bags were opened. “Furthermore, once you try repacking a ten kilogram bag, it means the fertilizer will be too little making it ineffective.”
Going forward, Craske said that Yara has more in store for Kenya.
“We are looking to achieve more in agricultural development based on better knowledge, products and infrastructure. This will be achieved by building a strong organization in Kenya to support farmers, agro-dealers and distributors, as well as other key stakeholders in the industry,” Craske said.