The fertiliser crisis has opened a new political battle front between Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago and his rival Zedekiah Bundotich alias Buzeki.
The clash was ignited after Mr Bundotich teamed up with a company – which specialises in the distribution of fertiliser globally – to supply the input to farmers as well as buy their maize.
The move has not gone down well with Mr Mandago and leaders allied to him who view the move as politically motivated, and which Mr Buzeki is using as a political spring board ahead of the 2022 elections.
Mr Bundotich, who unsuccessfully vied for the gubernatorial seat in 2017, has convinced some farmers in the region to enter into a partnership with Export Trading Group (ETG).
Mr Bundotich, who together with representatives from ETG signed an MoU with farmers on Friday last week, said the farmers entered into the deal due to the impeding shortage of fertiliser they are foreseeing because of lack of government subsidy.
The businessman yesterday said that through the partnership, ETG will supply farmers with DAP fertiliser at Sh3,000 while his company will provide transportation and other logistical support.
But Mr Mandago claimed that the company is eyeing to benefit from part of the Sh4.5 billion meant to purchase subsidised fertiliser.
He thus opposed the arrangement saying the country has many fertiliser blending companies, citing Toyota Tsusho fertiliser company in Ngeria, Eldoret, which he said has the capacity to blend the input for Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia counties.
“We also have Athi River Mining Company that has been blending fertiliser that has been used in this country. Why can’t the ministry contract these local companies to blend fertiliser and subsidise it for farmers?” He posed.
The governor, who spoke on Tuesday after making the state of the county address during the re-opening of the county assembly, said claims that the government has no plans to procure subsidised fertiliser this season spell doom for farmers.
Mandago hit out at the Ministries of Agriculture and Finance for frustrating farmers.
The governor now wants President Uhuru Kenyatta to crack a whip to the two ministries which he has warned that might be a stumbling block in realizing the government’s Big Four Agenda on food security.
“Recently the CS of Agriculture was summoned to parliament to appear before the agriculture committee and we were surprised as residents of this county and my farmers are shocked to learn that the ministry intends to use the Sh4.5 billion that was budgeted for subsidized fertilizer to pay the debts in National Cereals and Produce Board(NCPB),” said the County boss.
“As a governor, I want to state categorically that this is not acceptable and I want to tell the president he must crack the whip otherwise the ministry of Finance and Agriculture are going to derail the agenda of assuring food security,” he added.
The vocal governor wondered why the Ministry of Agriculture had not paid the debts dated back to over 3 years ago and decided to use funds allocated for the importation of subsidized fertilizer in this financial year.