BUNGOMA, Kenya, Feb 23 – Over 32,000 bags of fertiliser have been distributed to vulnerable farmers in a move meant to boost food security and empower farmers in Bungoma County.
The distribution carried under a flagship project by the County Government which begun in 2013 will see 700 farmers in each of the 45 wards in the county receive fertiliser for use on their farmlands.
Governor Ken Lusaka exuded confidence in the programme saying the identification of beneficiaries was above board.
“The identification of beneficiaries is public-led to cut on free-rider problem, diversion and corruption,” he said while addressing the press on Thursday.
Governor Lusaka said that he opted to adopt the strategy of distributing the input to farmers as a way of ensuring that poverty levels in the county are significantly reduced.
“We are not just confining ourselves to distributing free fertiliser. We are also assisting the vulnerable farmers by ploughing their pieces of land and carrying out free soil testing to determine the right variety of fertilizers to apply on them,” he said.
Felistus Nakhumicha – a widow from Tongaren in Bungoma who has also been a beneficiary of the initiative since 2013 – praised the efforts by the county administration saying production in her one-acre piece of land has risen significantly from 13 bags in 2012, 18 in 2013 and 23 in 2016.
Lawrence Munene, the head of operations at the Minjingu Fertilisers Limited – a local manufacturer of organic fertiliser which has partnered with the County Government to deliver fertiliser to locals since 2013 – said the firm will continue to focus on research in order to further enhance the quality of farm produce for the locals.
“We are also the only resource-based fertilizer manufacturer in East and Central Africa. We thus supply fertilizer manufacturers in the region with rock phosphate, a basic material in the manufacturing of fertilizers,” Munene said.
Munene said the firm will use it production capacity of 150,000 tons a year to ensure the county is food secure.
“Application of Nafaka Plus planting and top dressing fertilizer both correct PH and add nutrients, which significantly improve soil fertility for maize yield,” he said adding that the fertiliser was not prone to manipulation compared to Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) fertilisers.
His sentiments were echoed by David Mbakaya, a soil scientist who said the production of maize in the region had significantly increased.
“Maize planted with Nafaka Plus planting and top dressed with Minjingu Topdressing fertilizers result in higher yields than from DAP which supplies only nitrogen and phosphates,” he noted.