fertilizer
Trans Nzoia Governor Patrick Khaemba during the flagging off of trailers carrying 35,000 bags of subsidized fertiliser on March 21, 2016. Police have unearthed a syndicate involving unscrupulous middlemen and some dishonest Agriculture ministry staff in the North Rift region. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA

 

Police have unearthed a syndicate involving unscrupulous middlemen and some dishonest Agriculture ministry staff in the North Rift region, re-packaging subsidised fertiliser and reselling it at exorbitant prices to farmers.

The security team recovered a branding machine and red oxide suspected to be used in packaging of fake Kenya Seed Company (KSC) maize seed varieties in a swoop in Trans-Nzoia and Uasin Gishu counties as farmer rush to purchase the farm inputs for this planting season.

“The crackdown was launched following a tip-off from concerned farmers that some government officials were facilitating irregular purchase and sale of subsidised fertiliser,” said Lilian Okembo, the Trans-Nzoia police commandant.

Two suspects were arrested and repackaged government fertiliser in 50kg bags were impounded in the crackdown launched on a warehouse leased to the traders by the Kenya Railways Corporation.

“Stitching machines and empty bags of a commercial fertiliser firm which the traders use to re-package the manure were also recovered in the operation,” said Ms Okembo.

She added: “Some packaging instruments bearing Government of Kenya brands were seized during the swoop meaning they belong to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).”

DISHONEST NCPB OFFICIALS

According to police, some dishonest NCPB officials have been issuing fertiliser to the rogue traders pretending to be large scale farmers.

“We are taking samples to the government chemist for testing.

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“We have also launched a manhunt for other suspects who escaped after getting wind of the crackdown,” she said.

The incident follows claims by farmers in Uasin Gishu and Trans-Nzoia counties that some agricultural extension officers were facilitating irregular purchase of subsidised fertiliser that has led to shortage of the input in the region.

“We want a review of the vetting system to ensure only genuine farmers have access to the subsidised fertiliser,” said Mr Andrew Rotich, the chairman of the Trans-Nzoia Maize and Livestock Association.

But the NCPB Managing Director Newton Terer absolved the board from blame saying they only dealt with the distribution and storage of the farm input and not the vetting of farmers.

“The task of vetting is directly handled by county governments,” Mr Terer told the Nation by phone.

KSC has, however, assured farmers of enough maize seed stock to meet the country’s demand for this planting season.

http://www.nation.co.ke

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