NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 15 – The Kenya Tea Development Agency Management Services has suspended the importation of fertilizer for smallholder tea farmers for the year 2020 following disruptions in the importation chain that has been occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, the firm says it usually imports fertilizer on behalf of its over 600,000 smallholder tea farmers for application during the short rains in October/November of every year.
However, the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible for the fertilizer to be delivered in time for application by the farmers.
The firm says it sought and obtained expert advice from the Tea Research Institute on the effects on productivity of skipping one year of fertilizer application.
The research institute gave KTDA the go-ahead to skip the application for the year, adding that it will have no significant losses in yields, subject to adequate rainfall.
The institute however said the subsequent application should not be delayed to avoid further yield losses.
“On the basis of this advice, the Board suspended the Tender for the importation of fertilizer to next season,” the firm said, adding that farmers will be refunded the contributions they have made in the last seven months along with accrued interest.
This will be effected at the end of this month (June 2020).
“Farmers who may wish to apply fertilizer to their farms notwithstanding the above advice may source the same from government-approved commercial suppliers with tea fertilizer stocks,” KTDA MS said.
“KTDA will advise all stakeholders of the commencement of the next year’s procurement.”