MOMBASA, Kenya, Aug 27 – The second consignment of 45,000 metric tonnes (MT) of NPK fertilizer imported by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) Management Services on behalf of more than 600,000 smallholder tea farmers in the country, has arrived in Mombasa.
KTDA (Holdings) Chief Executive Officer Lerionka Tiampati said fertiliser is an essential ingredient for boosting tea production as it replaces soil nutrients used in the farms.
“Application of fertiliser to tea bushes at the outset of short rains is necessary to ensure consistent high quality and quantity of green leaf,” Tiampati said.
Tiampati added that importing fertiliser in large quantities enables the agency to leverage on economies of scale, thus purchasing the product at comparatively lower costs per unit. In 2018, the average price of KTDA-procured 50kg bag of fertiliser was Sh1,770 against a market price of Sh2,800 for similar quantities. The price per bag is usually determined by the cost of the input itself and other associated costs such as import duties, port charges, handling, warehousing and transport costs.
The first vessel carrying the fertilizer docked at a Mombasa port, Kilindini, on June 21st 2019 with 50,500 MT and the second, on August 22nd 2019 with 45,000 MT. In total, KTDA has imported 95,500 MT.
The first batch of fertilizer has already been distributed to smallholder tea farmers, and the second, is being offloaded and packed in 50kg bags for immediate dispatch to the factories for onward distribution to the farmers.
The consignment includes an order that had been made by some of the local tea producers that are taking advantage of KTDA discounted bulk import.
The quantity of fertiliser that a farmer receives depends on the number of tea bushes owned. On average, a 50kg bag of fertiliser is applied to 700 tea bushes. The fertiliser requirement is usually determined in November and December ahead of procurement in the following year.
The fertilizer is tested for quality and safety by Kenya Bureau of Standards through pre-shipment inspection agents at the source, manufacturing process and at the Mombasa port. Independent laboratories such as KEPHIS, Bureau Veritas, SGS, Intertek among others, also participate in the testing exercise to ensure it is fully compliant with safety and specifications.