Planting of September short rain crops such as barley, maize, millet, sorghum, and beans has begun, while harvesting of long rain crops such as wheat, millet, maize, beans, and barley is in progress. Agrodealers are recording increased sales of DAP and NPK 23 23 0. The retail price of DAP has increased due to increased import costs.
Agrodealers in Kenya have received assurance from the government that the market is liberalized for free trade without interference from state agencies. The Ministry of Agriculture has also pledged to hold discussions with the Ministry of Transport to find ways of ending delays in offloading fertilizers at the Port of Mombasa. Agrodealers complained that ships sometimes wait two weeks for fertilizers to be offloaded. So far, 485,000 metric tons of fertiliser has been imported by private dealers this year, and it is expected to rise to 640,000 metric tons by December.
Planting of short rain crops such as barley, maize, wheat, and sorghum is ongoing. Long rain crops such as maize and wheat are in their final stages of maturity while millet is being harvested in most regions. The demand for fertilizers is currently low. Agrodealers have recorded low sales volumes leading to slight drops in demand, especially for DAP and NPK 23 23 0.
As part of Yara’s international food security initiative worth 800 million shillings, every farmer will receive fertilizer for planting and topdressing during October through the December short rains. Approximately 10,000 smallholder maize farmers from vulnerable communities in Kiambu and Murang’a counties will receive 1,000 tonnes of fertilizer to increase their production.
Impact of Covid 19 on Kenyan Farmers
The financial situation of about nine out of ten farmers has worsened during the COVID 19 pandemic. According to recent data released by 60 Decibels, Kenyan farmers are being economically squeezed by decreasing demand for their produce, falling prices, and increasing costs of raw materials and supplies. Farmers are being forced to adjust to cope with the pandemic’s economic fallout. Approximately 90 percent of farmers have reduced the number of people hired to work on their farms. These adjustments are critical due to farmers’ diminishing non-farm incomes and increasing food prices.
Some of the adult swarms are starting to mature, suggesting the possibility of a generation of breeding once the short rains start in October. On 22 August, at least one swarm crossed into northeast Uganda and reportedly spread to Moroto, Amudati, Napak districts while another swarm arrived in Southeast South Sudan to the south of Kapoeta in Eastern Equatoria. The swarms are mobile and not expected to mature or breed in either country. In Northeastern Ethiopia, mature swarms from Afar concentrated along a 400 km stretch of the escarpment on the eastern edges of the Amhara and Tigray highlands where egg-laying will cause hopper bands to form. So far, at least one band has formed in Tigray, south of Mekele. Aerial and ground control operations are in progress. Immature swarms persist in the Harar Highlands, in nearby eastern areas, and on the plateau in Northwest Somalia where aerial control operations are in progress using biopesticides. These swarms could mature and eventually breed in areas of rainfall, including the northwest coast where adult groups are present.
Farmers in most regions are preparing their lands for the short rainy season. Harvesting of the short-term crops such as barley, sorghum and beans that were planted in March/April is going on. It is anticipated that there will be no shortage of fertilizers for the season because during the period of COVID 19, fertilizers were treated as essential commodities. There was an average increase in basal fertilizer prices. This can be attributed to the short planting season that is coming up. Stockists are busy stocking up fertilizers for the upcoming season.
Locust swarms have declined in the northwest, mainly in Marsabit County, but continue to be present in Turkana where aerial and ground control operations are in progress. The scale of migration of remaining swarms from Kenya is likely to be smaller than previously anticipated due to ongoing control operations.
Long rains planting season has come to an end and most farmers have started harvesting the early maturing crops such as barley and millet.
The demand for fertilizers is currently low since it is off season. Also, fertilizer is being treated as an essential product hence not affected by the Covid 19 restriction measures by the government. Stockists have indicated that there is enough stock in the country to meet demand.
Most DAP prices were stable. However, there was an average of -9% price decrease in 4 locations and 8% price increase in 6 locations
Most NPK prices were stable. However, there was an average of -4% price decrease in 2 locations and 9% price increase in 6 locations.
Most CAN prices increased. However, there was an average of -11% price decrease in 2 locations and 15% price increase in 16 locations.
Most Urea prices were stable. However, there was a 9% price increase in 1 location.
In East and Southern Africa, most countries have registered no shortages of fertilizer from the supply side. This is because the fertilizers for the 2020 season were already in the country before the pandemic. However, some issues such as blank sailing notices by shipping lines may possibly affect fertilizer orders in the coming months. The COVID 19 restriction measures at the ports, roads, and borders haver not really affected fertilizer products because they are treated as essential commodities, except for delays due to reduced operators and COVID 19 testing exercises.
The long rains are coming to an end in most parts of the country. Farmers in the North and South Rift regions are doing top dressing for maize and beans using Urea and CAN. Prices of DAP have also dropped in these regions because most farmers are through with planting.
In Eastern Region, most farmers are harvesting, so fertilizer demand is low. The rains have come to an end and there is not much farm activity. The region was not really affected by the plague of locusts, so farmers are expecting a bumper harvest.
In Mwea, Central Region, farmers are busy preparing their land for planting rice. There is enough stock of fertilizers to meet the demand. However, stockists in the Nairobi Region have registered shortage of TSP. They are attributing this to disruptions in importation caused by COVID 19.
The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) says it has suspended the importation of fertilizers for smallholder tea farmers for the year 2020 citing disruptions in the importation chain. The firm says it sought and obtained expert advice from the Tea Research Institute on the effects on productivity of skipping one year of fertilizer application. The research institute gave KTDA the go-ahead to skip the application for the year, adding that it will have no significant losses in yields, subject to adequate rainfall.
The cropping season in East and Southern Africa occurs from November to April, so most fertilizers were already in-country and applied or well down the distribution channel before the impact of Covid 19 began. Only small amounts of top-dressing fertilizers are currently arriving. In most countries, fertilizer associations and private sector companies are working closely with ministry officials to ensure efficiency in the distribution channel within the COVID 19 restrictions.
In all ESA countries, fertilizers are being treated as an essential good hence it has not really been affected by the restriction measures except for delays and congestions at the ports and borders.
The government announced this month that it will no longer purchase, distribute, sell, or set prices of fertiliser, seeds, or any farm inputs. Going forward, the government will focus on its key role, that of creating an enabling environment for producers and traders to make and execute commercial decisions while ensuring that commercial interests, especially on imports, do not disadvantage local producers and consumers.
During this period, the government has also announced the release of $30M for the supply of farm inputs (fertilizers, seeds, and Crop Protection Products) through e-vouchers targeting 200,000 small scale farmers, and KSh 1.5 Billion for horticulture & flower producers to access international markets.
In most parts of the country, farmers have completed planting and doing top dressing for most of their crops. However, in Narok and Kajiado counties, some farmers are still planting. Hence, the sales volume of DAP is still high but prices have started dropping.
In Nairobi and Mombasa counties, most stockists are experiencing slow sales. The main reason for this is because of cessation of movement in and out of these counties because of restriction measures by the government to prevent the spread of COVID 19.
In Transzoia County, which is the main area for maize plantation, there is increased sale of CAN and Urea which are used for top dressing. There is low volume of sales for DAP and in turn a drop in prices of the same.
In Mwea region, farmers are busy preparing their farms for planting. Most stockists have started stocking Urea and Ammonium Sulphate which are mainly used for planting rice.
The cropping season in East and Southern Africa occurs from November to April, so most fertilizers were already in-country and applied or well down the distribution channel before the impact of Covid 19 began.
The Government subsidy program has ended, so Government is no longer purchasing fertilizer through the National Cereals and Produce Board, but the implementation of National Value Chain Program is in progress. Target beneficiaries are to get fertilizers, seeds, agrochemicals, and lime. For basal fertilizers, stocks are available. For top dressing, there is availability of CAN but Urea is scarce for now, but shipments are anticipated to arrive end April/May. The prices of basal fertilizers such as DAP have started dropping because most farmers are done with planting and doing top dressing. Imports of top-dressing fertilizers may be impacted by the new regulations on bagging by the quay side.
Huge swarms of locusts are destroying crops and pasturelands in some East African countries. According to experts, the prolonged and exceptionally wet weather is causing hundreds of millions of the desert locusts to thrive. The situation remains extremely alarming specifically in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia where widespread breeding is in progress and new swarms are starting to form. This situation presents a potential threat to food security and livelihoods at the beginning of the upcoming cropping season.
Following the COVID 19 pandemic, there is shortage in fertilizer supply in the country. Most of the countries producing fertilizers, including China, have stopped production and shipping of fertilizer products, causing shortages across the country. Other fertilizer producing countries have also locked down. The floriculture industry, which is a high consumer (valued at Ksh 500 million) of fertilizer, has been adversely affected by COVID 19, resulting in the close-down of local and international flower farms and auction markets.
Fertilizer prices in the market have shot up because big farms which had foreseen the looming shortage bought and stocked huge volumes of fertilizer, thus creating further shortage. For instance, Calcium Nitrate which used to be sold at Ksh 34 per Kg now goes for Ksh 60. The large-scale vegetable export farms including Flamingo Growers and VegPro are also consuming large amounts of fertilizers since it is anticipated that demand for food will increase. In all this, the small-scale sector has not been affected much by the pandemic. The rainfall distribution across the country is encouraging smallholder farmers to grow more.
In the Mwea region, the demand for Ammonium Sulphate is high because this is the planting season for rice, while in the Lower Eastern region, farmers are currently planting tomatoes. In the Rift Valley region, the demand for DAP and NPK is high because farmers are preparing their lands for the upcoming season. However, the fears of the locusts invasion are discouraging most farmers.
In Nairobi County, the demand for fertilizer is still low but gradually picking up. The prices of most basal fertilizers such as DAP were low in the previous months but increasing now as farmers are preparing their farms for planting. The price of Urea and CAN are still low. Agrodealers have enough stock to meet the anticipated demand.
In Nakuru County, demand and sale of the fertilizers are high. Farmers are busy preparing their farms for the March planting season. Agrodealers have also stocked their shops, so fertilizers are readily available to farmers.
In Kisumu County, the demand for fertilizers like DAP and NPK is still low, but gradually picking up. However, the demand and sale of Sulphate of Ammonia are high because most farmers are planting rice. The price of top-dressing fertilizers such as Urea and CAN are also picking up as there are farmers who planted early. Agrodealers have stocked their shops hence there is enough fertilizers available to meet the current demand.
In Narok and Meru Counties, planting has already started. The demand and the sale of fertilizers are high in most regions of the counties. It has also been observed that agrodealers have stocked their shops, so there are enough fertilizers available to meet the current demand. In Kiambu region, CAN is on high demand because there are farmers who planted early in the month and are now doing top-dressing.
The sales volume for the fertilizers has increased slightly in this month due to the rains that have been going on in the country. Wholesale prices have also gone up due to delays at the Mombasa port and the importers are passing the charges on to agrodealers who are also increasing the retail prices.
In parts of Rift Valley province like Kericho, Eldoret and Kitale, the sales volume for planting fertilizers at this time is low as farmers have just finished harvesting maize and are busy preparing their lands for planting which begins in February.
In Kiambu, Muranga and Nyeri in the Central region, the sales volume of fertilizer has dropped because maize has already flowered, and the green maize is almost ready. This has led to drop in fertilizer prices.
In rice growing regions like Mwea, agrodealers there increased sale of fertilizers like Ammonium Sulphate and Urea which are used to top-dress rice. Also, farmers who grow tomatoes and French beans by irrigation have increased the sale of DAP and NPKs like 17.17.17, 23.23.0 and CAN.
In the Eastern region areas like Machakos, Meru and Embu, sales were low except CAN and Urea which are used for topdressing maize. A bumper harvest was expected in the coming months, but it seems this will not materialize because locusts have invaded the region.
The country has experienced above-average rainfall from November. Crops in some regions have been washed away while others have been submerged by floods causing harvests to rot on farms.
When the short rainy season started in early October, most farmers rushed to plant maize, beans, tomatoes and vegetables, among other crops. As has been in the past, the rains were expected to be heavy in October and reduce in intensity as time goes by to allow crops to flourish.
From Central to Western, Coastal and the usually dry North, farmers are counting losses due to heavy rains in the regions. Because of all this, demand and supply of fertilizers has dropped immensely. Farmers are waiting for the rains to subside to begin cultivation to recover the lost crops. In highland areas such as Mount Kenya and South Rift regions where floods are less experienced, farmers are doing garden farming for crops like vegetables. In highland areas such as Mount Kenya and South Rift regions, there is little use of fertilizers which does not really disrupt the fertilizer market. So generally, fertilizer prices have dropped because of the low demand.
Heavy rains are currently ongoing in the country. Farmers in the North and South Rift regions are waiting for the rains to subside to begin harvesting maize. Fertilizer usage and demand is currently low as most farmers are cultivating vegetables and beans mostly for subsistence use. Fertilizer prices have also dropped.
Heavy rains are ongoing in most parts of the country. Farmers are rushing to harvest maize in western regions while in other areas maize has not matured yet. Fertilizer demand is currently low, hence low prices. Currently, farmers who are growing vegetables (mostly for subsistence use) are those who are demanding the fertilizers.
The fertilizer prices have dropped this month. This is due to low sales from most agro dealer shops in the country. In term of availability of stock, according to wholesalers, there is enough stock available to satisfy the demand. There is anticipated increase in price and sales of fertilizer next month because of the planting season.
The government has set aside Sh48.5 billion this financial year to boost agriculture in the country. The Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS), Mwangi Kiunjuri said the money would go towards supporting agriculture activities to boost food security.
According to the CS, observatory platforms have been established by the support of the World Bank with the aim of monitoring climate for better farming activities. The observatory platforms will give farmers an opportunity to read the weather patterns to include them in their planning.
The CS said that Sh371.5 million has been invested in maize and potatoes to cushion farmers against natural occurrences. He said at least 416, 000 farmers have benefited from the program. countrywide and asked local farmers to join the insurance scheme. He said that the 2019 population and housing census included agriculture census model which would provide a framework for the government to an agriculture digitalization strategy to help the government in planning for farmers.
The CS said agriculture played a key role in the GDP of this country, adding that in 2018, agriculture contributed 32% directly to the GDP of the country and 27% indirectly through linkages in manufacturing. The farmers would continue to benefit from government interventions, adding that five counties had been selected for case studies where they would be provided with farm inputs that would include lime, seeds and fertilizer to test on productivity.
The CS asked farmers to embrace innovations and technology in their farming activities to improve production. Kiunjuri said that the warehouse system at National Cereals board is now working and would improve on efficiency on storage. This year’s theme was innovation, technology in agriculture and trade and was aimed at imparting new skills to farmers and providing an opportunity for business linkages.
Argus Added Value conference
The Argus Added Value Fertilizers Africa conference took place on 11-13th September 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya. The event was focused on enhanced efficiency and specialty fertilizers, micronutrients, bio stimulants and other bio-based products. The main agenda was to impact valuable insights into added value fertilizer market dynamics and regional growth potential through key insights presented by an expert panel of speakers. Among the companies in attendance were MEA, Chemagro, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) et al.
Yara East Africa has unveiled the Yara Farm weather App, an interactive and hyper-local weather mobile tool available on android stores, the app was developed in collaboration with software development company IBM.
The app’s designer says the user can share the information gathered from the App with other farmers on different mobile phone messaging platforms, even if they may not have access to the internet or smartphones. Additionally, the App enables the user to save and access weather information of up to four different locations within the country.
The app was unveiled during a forum convened to brief County Executive Council (CEC) members of the company’s new initiative to work with counties on smallholder farmer empowerment on effective fertilizer use for improved cropped quality and yields. Yara East Africa Kenya Country Manager William Ng’eno says the company has also reached out to the Central Economic Bloc for a partnership in setting up soil testing and knowledge exchange centres to boost agricultural productivity in the region.
The first tranche of the 95,500 metric tonnes of fertilizer imported for tea growers from Novorossiysk, Russia, arrived in Mombasa. The 50,500 metric tonnes arrived on board Panama-flagged MV Lowlands Mimosa on June 22. The offloading started the following day. It is the largest fertilizer consignment to be received at the Mombasa port, according to KPA head of conventional cargo operations. The next tranche of 45,000 metric tonnes is expected in July.
Many crop farmers in Kenya are counting losses as the country’s weather oscillates from one extreme to another.
The worst affected are potato and tomato farmers as the two crops are highly sensitive to weather changes, especially when grown in the open field. Many parts of the East African nation are currently experiencing an unusually cold weather.
The cold weather has followed a season of more than normal rainfall that led to deaths of livestock and destruction of property, including crops.
Farmers in Western and Central are expected to benefit from increased rains this month.
However, most parts of Northern, South Eastern, the Coastal Strip and the Southern Rift Valley (Kajiado and Magadi) will receive slightly depressed rainfall.
Agricultural experts noted that Kenyan farmers have no choice but to immediately take up climate-smart practices to save themselves from the vagaries of unpredictable weather.
The use of climate-smart practices has in the past been limited to mainly large-scale farmers as small ones continue to use traditional farming methods, but this is no longer feasible because of the erratic weather.
The sales of fertilizers have increased slightly as farmers are preparing for planting while waiting for the rains.
Fertilizer prices increased as registered by most of the agrodealer outlets especially planting fertilizers like DAP and NP 23 23 0.
Subsidized fertilizers which are provided to farmers by the government are not available and therefore farmers are buying from the open market.
In the Rift-valley region, in towns like Eldoret, Kitale and Nakuru, the sales of fertilizers slightly reduced as compared to the past seasons due to the delayed rains.
In the Eastern region, some farmers have already bought planting fertilizers but are still waiting for the rains.
In Central region, areas of Kiambu and Nyeri counties are experiencing minimal rainfall. The farmers are buying fertilizers for planting.
In Coastal region, the rains have also delayed. Some farmers have already planted while waiting for rains.
In general, the country is experiencing dry sunny climatic condition. Most of the agrodealers have restocked basal fertilizers like DAP and NPK 23.23.0 in preparation of the planting season which is expected to begin in March-April
The demand and the sale of these fertilizers have increased. The price for DAP and Urea have remained high because some major importers did not have the product in stock.
In Western and Nyanza regions of Kenya, the rains have started, and farmers are planting maize and beans. In Kisii, farmers have finished planting and are now weeding maize and beans as they apply the first top dressing. In Central region, farmers in Embu and Meru regions are also preparing their lands in readiness for the rains expected to start mid-March.
The prices of most of the fertilizers remained the same in most regions of the country.
Most of the agrodealers recorded low sales of fertilizers due to ongoing dry season in the country. However, the price of Urea has remained high because there was not enough stock in wholesalers and agrodealer shops.
In parts of Eastern region, the rains were low, and many farmers recorded poor harvest.
In Central region, maize is almost maturing and fertilizer use is very low.
In Rift Valley region, there was low sale of fertilizers. Farmers have harvested maize and they are busy preparing their lands for the next planting season which starts late February to early March.
In rice growing areas like Mwea, most agrodealers recorded increased demand and sales of Sulphate of Ammonia and Urea leading to increased prices for these fertilizers.