The distribution of fertilisers to farmers has played a major role in boosting the country’s agricultural sector and the economy at large, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, told parliament yesterday.
Appearing before parliament to answer questions pertaining to issues raised in the report by the parliamentary Commission on agriculture, Livestock development and Environment, Kalibata said that, compared to previous years, most farmers had now adhered to the government’s call to use fertilisers to improve on their yields.
“The use of fertilisers was so low in 2006 where only four kilograms were used per hectare. We, however, scored some improvement where now the use of fertilisers has increased to ten kilograms per hectare,” she said
Kalibata told the lawmakers that to encourage the farmers to use more fertilisers, the government had taken the initiative to use the bulk purchase method to enable farmers access the fertilizers at affordable prices.
She explained that her ministry was doing everything possible to purchase and distribute fertilisers on a larger scale.
“In 2007, 14,000 tonnes of fertilisers were bought, and they increased to 22,000 in 2008 and last year, rose to 23,500 tonnes which were sold to farmers. We are hoping that this year, it can raise to 40,000 tonnes and at a later stage make it 56,000,” she said
Kalibata also pointed out that while only 10 percent of farmers used fertilisers, the number had increased with the government’s new initiative of land consolidation.
The initiative requires that small scale farmers put themselves together and collectively work together to improve on their production.
“When we started the land consolidation process, the use of fertilisers increased to 25 percent in 2008, then 45 percent in 2009 and we are hoping that the number can go uo to 60 percent,” she said
However, Kalibata said that farmers are still using basic fertilisers though plans to upgrade them, especially for coffee and rice, were underway.