Coffee farmers are set to get cheap fertiliser after Parliament ring-fenced Sh1 billion for the purchase of input in an ongoing implementation of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s revival plan for the cash crop.
Parliamentary Budget and Appropriation Committee says the cash has been hived off the Sh4.3 billion allocated to fertiliser subsidy in the financial year 2018/19.
“The committee recommends that within the allocation for fertiliser subsidy, Sh1 billion be ring-fenced for coffee farmers,” the committee says in its report.
The move is likely to cause jitters among local private fertiliser distributors as removal of close to 200,000 coffee farmers signals a shrinking market ahead.
Through their lobby, the Fertiliser Association of Kenya, the distributors have previously protested the government drive to broaden its fertiliser subsidy programme to cover cash crops such as coffee, sugar cane and tea. The programme initially covered maize farmers only.
Coffee is Kenya’s fourth-leading foreign exchange earner after tourism, tea and horticulture.
Last year, a revival taskforce appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta recommended, among other things, to put coffee on maize-type fertiliser subsidy.
A circular was issued in line with the task force report, which directed all coffee growing counties to determine the quantity of fertiliser farmers require in liaison with co-operative societies in their zones.