Tea farmers benefit from subsidized fertilizer

Tea farmers benefit from subsidized fertilizer

Smallholder tea farmers are set to make a saving this year following a 35 percent drop in fertilizer costs.

A 50 kilogram bag of fertilizer will drop from an average of Sh2,308 in 2015 to Sh1,492 this planting season.

This is after the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) bought 74,597 metric tons of fertilizer, to be distributed to 560,000 small scale tea farmers.

The fertilizer is valued at Sh2.2 billion with farmers set to access the input through the KTDA fertilizer credit scheme.

This is the first major price drop in fertilizer costs since 2013 and is set to improve farmers’ earnings this season.

Through the subsidization, KTDA will shoulder port and transport costs.

“The price includes C&F Mombasa, financing costs, clearing, forwarding, handling and port charges,” KTDA said in a notice in the dailies.

KTDA raked in Sh84 billion from tea sales in the last season, which saw farmers walk away with Sh44 billion in bonus payments.

Small-scale farmers account for more than half of Kenya’s total tea output and with fertilizer application being key to quality leaf production, they most certainly will benefit from the rising tea prices in the global markets fueled by strong demand and appetite for black tea.

Last week the average price for a kilo of tea was Sh233 at the tea auction, up six percent from Sh220 a week earlier.

There will be price variations for different tea factories based on the distance from the port of Mombasa.

Farmers allied to the Kagwe tea factories will pay the least at Sh1,434 while farmers allied to the Kapsara and Ogembo tea factories will part with Sh1,554 for a 50 kilogram bag of the NPK fertilizer.

Kenya is the leading exporter of black tea, selling 95 percent of tea leaves to the world market.

Tea production in the 2015/16 season stood at 291 million kilograms, up from 241 million kilograms a year earlier.

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