Fertilizer imports in Kenya dropped by 50 per cent in the last two quarters signalling lower production in the agricultural sector.
The key ingredient in farming has dropped to 126,885 metric tonnes between July and September from 248,991 metric tonnes imported in the January-March 2018 quarter.
According to the Third Quarterly Balance of Payments report, the trend is a result of stringent re-inspection regulations that have seen consignments declared unfit and re-shipped to countries of origin.
The move follows farmers’ complaints over poor harvests in 2017 due to low-quality fertilizer.
The January-March planting season saw importers bring in 248,991 metric tonnes worth Sh10 billion, followed by 149,400 tonnes worth Sh5.4 billion imported during the April-June period and a paltry 126,885 metric tonnes worth Sh4 billion during the third quarter of 2018.
Kenya Flower Council chief executive Clement Tulezi says the severe drop in imports is hurting flower firm investments whose hydroponic farming operations wholly depend on chemical fertilizers.
During the third quarter, the agricultural sector realised a 5.2 per cent growth, thanks to enhanced access to local and foreign markets for Kenyan horticultural and flowers compared to 2017’s gain in a similar period of 3.7 per cent.
The report says this helped ease Kenya’s current export-import trade deficit by 23.1 per cent from Sh150.9 billion to Sh116.0 billion.
Importers say the product has become so expensive that farmers no longer buy the scarce commodity that must be subjected to inspection at source by Kenya Bureau of Standards-appointed companies and re-tested upon arrival in Mombasa.
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