NAIROBI – On August 3, the Russian embassy in Kenya sent a tweet. “More than 34,000 tonnes of fertilizer donated to Kenya by the Russian Uralchem-Uralkali Group are now being reformulated to produce 100,200 tonnes of fertilizer. This will help Kenya a lot to get a good harvest this year”.
The previous day, President William Ruto had called for a press conference at State House Nairobi, where he addressed the status of the Kenya Kwanza administration’s interventions in agriculture through the subsidised fertilizer programme.
“For the first time in our country’s history, we are providing farmers with fertiliser whose formulation is customised to feed crops with their specific requirement of elements and address local soil nutrient composition. It is also the first time that fertiliser has been directly delivered to farmers on the basis of land acreage and crop production capacity,” President Ruto said.
The President further indicated that the last-mile logistics of delivering the fertilser to farmers were enhanced through partnership with county governments, where the counties and communities made warehouses and stores available to the National Cereals and Produce Board to serve farmers efficiently.
Announcing the commencement of the second phase of the fertilizer programme, President Ruto said the government would immediately reduce the price of fertilizer from Sh3,500 to Sh2,500 per 50 kg bag.
“At this price, we expect significantly higher uptake of fertilizer. Since fertilizer is the game- changer of agricultural productivity, this should translate to higher production in the next planting season. I encourage farmers to embrace better and greater use of fertilizer to increase yields in the coming seasons,” the President said. In the entire address, there was no mention of the source of the fertilizer.
Begs the question: Is the government of Kenya selling Russia’s fertilizer donation?
The President said for the coming short rains, the government has embarked on the distribution of fertilizer to farmers throughout the country, with a view to deliver 100,000 metric tonnes or two million 50kg bags at the “subsidised cost of Sh2,500”.
This suggests the same amount of the donated fertilizer is now on sale.
The government in May received the 34,400 tonnes of fertilizer in Mombasa, which was then to be reformulated to produce 100,200 tonnes and distributed to farmers under the Fertilizer Subsidy Programme through outlets owned by NCPB.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi said the fertilizer would not be sold “beyond Sh3,500 per bag”. He was accompanied by Russia Ambassador Dmitry Maksimychev.
“Russia has donated the fertilizer to friends to address the challenge of hunger on the ground. It is basically an effort to support friends in Kenya,” he said, adding it will be blended in accordance with Kenyan standards.
“The Russian Federation is proud to contribute to this consignment of fertilizers, which is crucial for global agriculture,” Ambassador Maksimychev said at the time the donation was delivered.
The donation was part of the Russian fertilizer that Latvia had seized seized last year as most of it was owned by Uralchem and Uralkali (URKAI.MM), which were controlled by sanctioned Russian oligarch Dmitry Mazepin,