Blow to poor Kenyan farmers as government insists on moving ahead with the proposal to ban raw manure

Kenyan maize farmers.
  • The government says the move is a measure to ensure food safety standards.
  • Majority of small scale farmers in Kenya use animal manure in crop production as a result of mixed farming.
  • The National Cereals and Produce Board normally distributes subsidized fertilizer to farmers but the quantity is low and demand high.

Kenyan farmers have been dealt a blow after government insisted it won’t be abandoning its plan to ban the use of raw manure even as environmentalists go up in arms.

The government says the move is a measure to ensure food safety standards. The proposed rules are part of the government’s initiative to tighten controls on the sector by implementing the fourth schedule of the Crops Act passed in 2013.

Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga says the bacterial viral load in fresh animal waste compromises food safety standards that might hurt Kenya’s agricultural exports.

“Consumers buy food and they don’t want to get sick from the phosphates so because of that there are agreements globally on how best to grow food which is safe,” said Boga

Majority of small scale farmers in Kenya use animal manure in crop production as a result of mixed farming and as such the rules may hamper yields, reduce income and demoralize farmers. 

“I have been using the manure for as long as I have been a farmer and it has always been the safest form of fertiliser that I use,” farmer Peter Sawe said, Daily Nation reported.

For smallholder farmers keeping animals and growing crops, manure is readily available for use in the farm at no cost while fertilizer prices are controlled by the state.

Environmentalists also believe that organic farming is good for the country in the long term.

The government through the National Cereals and Produce Board normally distributes subsidized fertilizer to farmers in the country’s bread baskets counties of North Rift and Western Kenya but the quantity is low and demand high.

In 2017 for instance, Nandi County received 59,000 bags against a demand of about 200,000 bags of the subsidized fertilizer. 

This means that farmers have to combine manure and fertilizer at planting while others incur more costs buying at market rates.

“When the government was providing farmers with a subsidy, phosphate 212 fertiliser used to be sold at 1,500 per 50 kilogramme bag. The price has now skyrocketed to Sh3,200 per bag, placing it out of reach of most farmers. We need the subsidy to be able to produce more maize cheaply,” Mr Sawe was quoted as saying early this year when the government's proposal came to light.

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