Fertilizer demand is low in the country, but prevailing prices are still high. The cost of fertilizer has been negatively impacted by the rising cost of natural gas, unfavourable exchange rates, global supply constraints, high crude oil costs, and the cost of shipping, among other factors.
Ex-warehouse prices per 50 kg bag remain largely stable with a marginal increase from July prices as below:
Fertilizer for smallholder tea farmers arrives in Mombasa
Approximately 65,000 tonnes of fertilizer imported by the Kenya Tea Development Agency Management Services Limited for smallholder farmers in the country has landed at the port of Mombasa, awaiting packaging and distribution. The NPK 26:5:5 chemically compounded fertilizer was procured directly from two international companies, Ameropa AG of Romania, and Indagro SA of Switzerland, at a total cost of Sh2.9 billion ($29 million) (C&F Mombasa). The final cost of a 50kg bag of fertilizer will be determined once clearing and transport costs to respective tea factories across the country as well as marine and overland insurance costs have been factored in. Concurrently, a local tender to supply an additional 21,000 tonnes of fertilizer has been issued to satisfy unmet demand of the commodity. The Kenya Tea Development Agency has shortlisted four firms for possible award but is yet to make the decision. The firms are Yara East Africa, Etonic Trading P.T.E, ETG, and the new blending facility in Kenya, Fertiplant EA. Each of the listed firms bid for the full 20kt except for Yara who only put in 7kt. The origins for the different bids include Norway, Russia, Egypt, and Kenya.
The country is currently short on DAP with one of the Middle East producers in discussion with importers on possible October cargo. The high price is likely to feature in any cargo positioned in line with firm FOB’s.
Urea is also short with demand on a wait-and-see basis as importers keenly follow proceedings of the global Urea prices. CAN import demand has been witnessed in last days leading to September with one of the traders making offers for Turkish products.
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Farmers appeal to government for subsidized fertilizers
Farmers in Bomet County, through their national umbrella, the Kenya National Farmers’ Federation (KENAFF) Bomet Branch, has appealed to the government to release subsidized fertilizers to boost their farm outputs. The farmers have faulted the Ministry of Agriculture for failing to relieve farmers from spending a lot of money in acquiring fertilizers for their crops. The farmers claimed that over six years ago under the old Act governing tea farmers in the country, farmers used to receive fertilizers which they used on the crop. Apart from making good harvest, farmers used to plug quality tea which helped them to fetch good prices in the world market, hence good pay. Therefore, farmers in the tea sector are predicting low production from the crop in the coming years if the issue is not addressed.
Due to high global prices in FOB’s and freight, and subsequently high landed prices, local fertilizer prices are high. Demand is currently low in the country. Freight estimates from Middle East to East Africa are indicated at mid-$50’s to low $60’s/mt. Ex warehouse Mombasa prices are at an all-time high per 50k bag. July price range, ex-warehouse Mombasa (KES); DAP: 3,350-3500, CAN: 2,300, Urea: 3,200-3,300, NPK: 2,500-2,700.
No major fertilizer shortage has been reported. There was a slight shortage of Urea in early July. CAN reserves are limited with two international traders building vessels from Turkey.
The Kenya Tea Development Agency recently issued a tender to procure 20,000t NPK 26-5-5 chemical compound in the form of 400,000 50kg bags to supply to small scale tea farmers in its managed tea factories in Kenya. The deadline for bidding is 17 August 2021.
Other fertilizer updates
The regional ports giving Kenya a run for its money
Ports of Mombasa and Lamu are facing steep competition from the expansion of regional harbours such as the recently expanded Berbera Port in Somaliland and the planned revival of Bagamoyo in Tanzania. The viability of the recently upgraded Kisumu facility is in question after Uganda-Kenya’s main target for that route started using the central corridor. With the launch of the Lamu port in May, Kenya is targeting the transshipment cargo to Ethiopia, which mainly relies on the Port of Djibouti for 95 percent of its goods. However, the launch of Berbera port is reason enough for the Kenya Ports Authority to worry as the facility is strategically positioned to serve Ethiopia. This comes at a time when President Samia Suluhu Hassan has announced that Tanzania will look to revive the $10 billion Bagamoyo port project on the eastern coast of the country.
The Kenyan government has set aside Sh2 billion in financial year 2021/22 for the construction of the Suswa-Naivasha link and rehabilitation of the old railway line to Kisumu. The railway line is meant to transport cargo from the Naivasha Inland Container Depot to Kisumu for onward transport to the Great Lake Countries.
Generally, prices of nitrogen and phosphates fertilizers have been stable albeit at higher levels Year-over-Year (YoY). This has been majorly driven by strong freight assessments caused by rebounding global trade recovery as well as strong demand from traditional global markets namely India and Latin America.
Freight assessments, from East Africa’s main source market, Middle East, have been indicated at upwards of $50 since end of Q1 up from the usual average figure of $30/mt +/-. This holds true for most of the major supply routes globally.
In most parts of the country, fertilizer prices have remained stable during the month of June. Of interest, though, is that the average price is still relatively higher YoY due to reasons mentioned above.
The 4-week average ex-warehouse Mombasa prices per 50kg bag are below:
DAP (KSh3143.75), CAN (KSh2268.75), Urea (KSh2737.5), Ammonium sulphate (KSh1425), NPK (KSh2543.75)
In uni-modal rainfall major growing areas of Central, Rift Valley and Western provinces, planting of the 2021 “long-rains” main season crops started in March and crops are currently in their growing stage. In bi-modal rainfall in southeastern and coastal marginal agriculture areas, crops are in maturity stage expected to be harvested as from July. The disruptions from COVID-19 have not had a detrimental effect on the overall farmer demand.
With the government out of fertilizer imports for this year, the figures, year to date, have been impressive with port records for bulk commodity indicated at 444,460mt as opposed to 354,409mt same period last year.
Most regions in Kenya are well served with healthy imports from the different importers. Preceding the month of June, 44,850mt of CAN, 47,000mt of Urea and 4,000 mt of ammonium sulphate was imported. These imports are in line with the topdressing season ongoing in some of the agro-ecological regions.
Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has announced distribution of more than 600, 000 mt of fertilizer to small scale tea growers across the country. The farmers have gone without the subsidized inputs from the agency for almost a year after its importation was affected by the outbreak of COVID-19 which forced the country to restrict international travels. Farmers have been purchasing inputs for their crops from local dealers at a relatively high cost of up to Sh3, 000 for a 50 kilograms bag as compared to Sh1, 700 to Sh 2, 000 on that from the tea Agency. 65, 000 mt of 50 kg bagged fertilizers are expected at the Port of Mombasa in early July /August. The supply is, however, a decrease from 85, 000 mt it had tendered for last season. KTDA started the tendering process for the importation of NPK 26:5:5 fertilizers from international firms in January. One Acre Fund is also issuing tenders for the 2021/22 season.
Other fertilizer updates
- New Fertilizer Plant in Nakuru, Kenya: A multibillion-shilling fertilizer plant that will meet the specific soils and crop conditions across the East African region has started operations in Nakuru. The Sh3 billion project, the first of its kind in Kenya, which is being spearheaded by Fertiplant East Africa Limited (FEA) is expected to bring down the cost of fertilizer production in Kenya. The modern NPK compound granulation facility will guarantee quality and consistency and will be targeting over two million farmers. The plant produces fertilizer for various soil types and crop specific requirements informed by results from soil tests conducted. This comes in the wake of increased acidity in soils that has significantly reduced fertility, hence reduced yields for farmers.
- Maisha Mineral Fertilizer Limited Investment: Steel billionaire Narendra Raval has invested Sh1.8 billion in upgrading the fertilizer plant his firm acquired in the buyout of ARM Cement. The investment will triple the plant’s production capacity to 300,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer annually. The money will go into buying new machinery and upgrading the plant to new standards. The plant will sit on 11 acres in Athi River County.
Prices of most planting fertilizers have decreased in Kenya because of low demand. The planting of long rain crops such as barley, beans, maize, sorghum, and millet ended in April hence the low demand. The price of DAP fertilizer has increased because of high demand due to the planting of wheat which began mid-May. The price of most top-dressing fertilizers has also increased because most crops in most parts of the country are in their growth stages and require top-dressing fertilizers.
Fertilizer is available to farmers because agrodealers had stocked enough in readiness for the season. The National Cereals and Produce Board and Kenya National Trading have been identified to supply affordable fertilizers through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives making fertilizers readily available.
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New Fertilizer Plant in Nakuru, Kenya: A multibillion-shilling fertilizer plant that will meet the specific soils and crop conditions across the East African region has started operations in Nakuru. The Sh3 billion project, the first of its kind in Kenya, which is being spearheaded by Fertiplant East Africa Limited, is expected to bring down the cost of fertilizer production in Kenya. The modern NPK Compound Granulation facility will guarantee quality and consistency for the 100,000 tons that will initially be produced per year, targeting over two million farmers. The plant produces fertilizer for various soil types and crop specific requirements informed by results from soil tests conducted. This comes in the wake of increased acidity in soils that has significantly reduced fertility, hence reduced yields for farmers.
Plans to Set Up New Fertilizer Plant: Italian consortium Maire Tecnimont SPA plans to set up a fertilizer production plant in Kenya in a move expected to greatly reduce the import bill for fertilizer. The consortium intends to establish a first state-of-the-art, commercial-scale renewable power-to-fertilizer plant in Kenya in partnership with the Naivasha-based Oserian Development Company. The investment is expected to reduce dependence on imports, increase affordability, and ensure availability of the synthetic manure at the right time during planting seasons.
State agencies are selling planting fertilizers to farmers at Sh3,100 per 50kg bag. This comes as a relief to growers who have been paying Sh3,500 for the same quantity in agrovets. The Ministry of Agriculture said it has negotiated with National Cereals and Produce Board and the Kenya National Trading Corporation for the DAP fertilizer. The announcement comes as a boost to growers who have started planting following the onset of prolonged rains in most parts of the country. However, farmers who have been listed under the government subsidy program through the e-voucher will pay Sh3,200 for the same quantity of fertilizer.
Fertilizer for the ongoing planting season is available to farmers. The National Cereals and Produce Board and Kenya National Trading Corporation have been identified to supply affordable fertilizer through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Cooperatives.
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Self Help Africa Kenya, in collaboration with the Root and Tuber Crop Unit, is organizing a National Cassava Conference at KARLO in Kenya which will be held from the 21st to the 26th of June. This will provide an opportunity to promote cassava as a critical agricultural value chain with the potential to increase income, food, and nutrition security among smallholder farmers in Kenya.
The DAP planting fertilizer will be selling for Ksh 3,100 per 50 Kg bag generally but will be sold at Ksh 3,200 under the Ministry of Agriculture E-voucher Program. The pricing has been negotiated taking into consideration the COVID-19 pandemic, exchange rates, and fuel prices. The negotiated pricing will go a long way in bringing down the cost of production to farmers, in view of prevailing economic circumstances in Kenya and the world at large. The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has been authorized to sell Government of Kenya (GOK) residue balance of subsidized fertilizer in various stores across the country at normal government subsidized rate to all farmers without vetting procedures.
Fertilizer is available to farmers for the ongoing planting season. The NCPB and Kenya National Trading Corporation have been identified to supply affordable fertilizers through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives.
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The GOK, through the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), on 5th March 2021, issued stringent maize import regulations based on the findings of a survey conducted by AFA which showed that maize from Uganda and Tanzania is unfit for human consumption due to levels of mycotoxins that were consistently beyond safety limits. This was necessitated by continuous surveillance on the safety of food imports to Kenya where test results for maize imported from the two countries revealed high levels of aflatoxin. The Food Crops sub-sector has always been unregulated since independence and this has led to many malpractices including unmonitored imports and cross-border trade leading to poor quality and unsafe crop produce and products.
In most parts of Rift Valley, fertilizer prices have gone up by 35 per as maize farmers in the bread basket region are preparing to plant. Short rains have begun pounding parts of the region and planting is expected to start in two weeks.
Across the country, farmers worry that fertilizer costs will rise dramatically this year, mostly due to deprecation of the shilling that has increased the cost of fertilizer since they are imported. A spot survey of fertilizer outlets, including KFA, indicates DAP used for planting is selling for at least Sh3,100 per 50kg bag – an increase from Sh2,700 per bag at the same time last year.
In the Rift Valley region, there is enough quality fertilizer in the markets because suppliers, including Yara, Mea, Baraka, and Morocco-based OCP have increased supplies in the region ahead of the planting season.
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Yara East Africa has introduced a micro-nutrient fertilizer, Yara Microp, targeting to improve maize yields in Western Kenya. Soil analysis in the region revealed a need for a blended product that has Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Ammoniacal Nitrogen, Sulphur and Zinc enabling the maize crop to grow faster and produce higher yields. This led to the development of the blended fertilizer, Yara Microp.
Small scale tea farmers are pay more for fertilizers available in the open market because of a delay in the tendering process of fertilizer from the Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA). The earliest the farmers can get the subsidized fertilizer, according to officials at the agency, is August because of the lengthy procurement process. A 50-kilo bag of NPK fertilizer in the open market retails between Sh2,400 to Sh2,800 compared to KTDA’s Sh1,700 to Sh2, 000, which is advanced to farmers on credit.
In parts of the country that grow maize, barley, sorghum, and millet, fertilizer prices have gone down because farmers have just finished harvesting these cereals and are preparing their lands for planting which begins in February.
KTDA management services intend to prequalify firms for supply of approximately 85,000 metric tons of NPK 26:5:5 chemically compounded fertilizer to small scale tea farmers for the year 2021. The agency did not import the input last year due the outbreak of COVID-19 which restricted international trade.
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The National Irrigation Authority has embarked on expansion of Ahero and West Kano Irrigation Schemes to boost rice and horticultural production in the country. Under the program, an additional 10,700 acres will be put under irrigation at the two schemes bringing the total acreage to 18, 500. The expansion will net more farmers to scale up production as envisioned in the national government’s Big Four Agenda Pillar on food security. Water and Irrigation Principal Secretary, Joseph Irungu, also received 27, 000 bags of fertilizer worth Sh. 70 million, a donation from the Japan International Cooperation Agency to support rice farmers in the area.
Fertilizer prices went down because December is usually a short rain season, so farmers do not plant most crops and therefore do not need fertilizers. This caused price decreases because demand was low. Short rain crops such as barley, maize, millet, sorghum, and beans that were planted in November were in their growing stages while the harvesting of long rain crops such as barley continued in December.
Fertilizer was available throughout the country. However, agrodealers reported decreased fertilizer sales because of the low fertilizer demand.
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The 2018 tea bill was approved in December 2020. The bill is expected to bring many benefits to tea farmers, including fewer brokers and faster payments. Farmers will access up to 50% payment within 14 days after an auction, whereas the remaining amount will come at the end of the year. The Tea bill will also reestablish the Kenya Tea Board, which will ease exploitation by brokers. The Tea Board will monitor, and license agencies involved in the buying and selling of tea. It will also ensure that farmers’ management fees and levies by factories and brokers are known and fixed. The bill’s enactment will ensure that only tea factories with 100 acres under tea bushes will be given licenses to operate. The bill will also allow the formation of the Tea Research Foundation to improve both the quality and quantity of the cash crops.
Highlights of 2020 Comments
At the beginning of the first quarter, fertilizer prices were low as farmers had just finished harvesting their crops. Thereafter, fertilizer prices started increasing and shot up in March because of the shortage of supply brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of the first quarter, fertilizer prices went down since planting of most crops had been completed.
During the second quarter, despite COVID-19 that paralyzed most business operations, fertilizer prices were stable because fertilizer was being treated as an essential service hence there was enough of it in the country. During the third quarter of the year, the fertilizer prices were low because of low demand brought about by the short rain seasons.
During most months of the year, fertilizer was available throughout the country. Despite COVID-19 that led to lockdown in most countries, fertilizer shortage was reported less frequently because it was being treated as an essential service.
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In the year 2020, huge swarms of locust destroyed crops and pasturelands in the dry parts of the country. The swarms declined in July and breeded from September again.
The financial situation of about nine out of ten farmers worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kenyan farmers were economically squeezed by decreasing demand for their produce, falling prices, and increasing costs of raw materials and supplies. Farmers were forced to adjust to cope with the pandemic’s economic fallout. Approximately 90 percent of farmers reduced the number of people hired to work on their farms. These adjustments were critical due to farmers’ diminishing non-farm incomes and increasing food prices.
Successive waves of locust invasion are anticipated in mid-December. Immature swarms have been observed in southern Ethiopia, northern Kenya, and parts of Somalia. Intensive survey and control measures have been put in place to contain the invasion. In Kenya’s Kitui County, fears have set in as desert locusts were noticed in mid-November. The sightings came as the Kenya Meteorological Department predicts that the country will experience depressed rainfall during this short rain season.
Planting of short rain crops such as barley, maize, millet, sorghum, and beans continued in November while harvesting of long rain crops such as wheat and maize also continued. Agrodealers are recording low sales of fertilizers. Demand is currently low because the rains have subsided. Top dressing fertilizers such as CAN is currently in demand because farmers are top dressing the short rain crops. Prices of fertilizers such as DAP and NPK 17 17 17 have dropped.
Kenyan startup, Farmers Pride, a one-stop e-commerce platform that connects village level farmers to quality inputs, services, and information through women-owned DigiShops powered by technology, has raised US$220,000 funding from Gray Matters Capital under its gender portfolio, coLABS. The startup’s DigiShop platform creates new agriculture opportunities for village level farmers to access trusted and dependable information, inputs, and services. It now plans to scale its offering after raising funding from Gray Matters Capital via GMC coLABS, an early-stage, sector-agnostic investment portfolio that looks to support innovative and scalable startups that improve the lives of women and girls around the world.
Farmers Pride will use the US$220,000 funding to help it reach 500,000, mostly female, rural farmers to boost their incomes and productivity through access to quality inputs and services. The startup will utilize the investment for agro-dealer pipeline development, and the launch of 50 technology-powered women and youth-owned village level DigiShops, as well as a DigiShop technology upgrade to support last mile SMS and voice powered delivery of farmer education and inputs. It also plans to roll out a robust farmer education programme to reach additional 30,000 farmers by 2022, the majority of these being women and youth.
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.