The Kenya Tea Development Agency says it has suspended the importation of fertilizer for smallholder tea farmers for the year 2020 citing disruptions in the importation chain that has been occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agency imports fertilizer on behalf of its over 600,000 smallholder tea farmers for application during the short rains in October/November of every year. It says the bulk importation enables tea farmers to benefit from economies of scale, competitive prices and deliveries right at their tea buying centres.
However, the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic makes it impossible for the fertilizer to be delivered in time for application by the farmers.
In a statement, the agency says through its subsidiary KTDA-MS, it sought and obtained expert advice from the Tea Research Institute on the effects on productivity of skipping one year of fertilizer application. The advice was that it is possible to skip one year with no significant losses in yields, subject to adequate rainfall. However, the subsequent application should not be delayed, to avoid further yield losses.
On the basis of this advice, the Board suspended the Tender for the importation of fertilizer to next season. Consequently, farmers will be refunded the contributions they have made in the last seven months along with accrued interest.
This will be effected at the end of June 2020. It has advised farmers who may wish to apply fertilizer to their farms notwithstanding the above advice may source the same from government-approved commercial suppliers with tea fertilizer stocks.
KTDA will advise all stakeholders of the commencement of the next year’s procurement.