fertiliser in kenya safaricom

The electronic purchase of subsidised fertiliser via Safaricom is yet to take off despite a plan to unveil it for use ahead of the current planting season.

 The government said the e-subsidy fertiliser plan has been hit by a technical hitch, making it difficult for the State to sell the farm input through the electronic transfer.

This means that farmers will buy the subsidised fertiliser at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) in a distribution network said to be less transparent and locks out farmers in zones where the board lacks a presence.

“There has been a problem with the Safaricom system and that is why we have been unable to roll out the programme has planned,” said Johnson Irungu, director of crops in the Ministry of Agriculture.

The e-fertiliser subsidy management system, allows farmers to directly access vouchers for the subsidised products through their mobile phones, which they use to buy fertiliser from selected outlets.

The electronic-based fertiliser distribution system was expected to ease access to the input by farmers and boost transparency in the allocation of fertiliser to more than 3.5 million small-holder farmers using mobile phones.

Officials reckon that some unscrupulous traders buy the subsidised fertiliser and later sell to farmers at market rate.

The government spends Sh3 billion annually to provide farmers with low-cost fertiliser at Sh1,600 compared to market rate of Sh3,500.

Dr Irungu said the system, if rectified on time, would run concurrently with the manual one to avoid further delays in issuance of the fertiliser whose importation has also been delayed.

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E-subsidy is an electronic vouchering solution that makes use of data and short message service (SMS) to manage the issuing, redemption and reconciliation of vouchers on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Once details have been captured, the growers will receive a text message from the service provider confirming their registration details, the agro-dealers participating in their locality and availability of fertiliser.

The state had urged farmers to register at NCPB depots to benefit from the system, as the government moved to phase out physical issuance that has been marred by corruption.

The State is banking on the subsidy programme to get rid of conmen who have been posing as farmers to benefit from the low cost fertiliser, locking out genuine growers.

The platform aims at curbing malpractices such as re-selling of the supplement as the system can track the farmers using phones.

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