Floods and Fake Fertilizers Threat to Food Security in Kenya

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Made from inferior ingredients and lacking essential nutrients, fake fertilizers not only fail to improve crop yields but can also damage the soil and contaminate the food grown in it.

A section of the farm where the maize farm was carried away by floods in Kipkenyo,Uasin Gishu County.PHOTO/Kipngeno Mutai.

By Kipngeno Mutai

In the heart of East Africa, where the Great Rift Valley stretches its arms wide.

A nation of rich biodiversity and cultural diversity, Kenyans  have long relied on the land for sustenance. But in recent years, this symbiotic relationship has been tested by two formidable adversaries: floods and fake fertilizers.

The story begins in the farmlands of the Rift Valley, where farmers toil under the sun, coaxing life from the soil. 

In recent years, Kenya has experienced increasingly changing weather patterns, with heavy rains causing rivers to swell and overflow their banks. The floods ravage farmlands, sweeping away crops, livestock, and homes in their relentless path. Entire communities are left devastated, their livelihoods washed away in a torrent of water and mud.

Agriculture contributes 33% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and according to the Ministry of Agriculture, there was an increase of maize production from 34.3 million bags in the year 2022 to 47.8 million bags in the year 2023 and  is projecting to produce 60 million bags by 2025.

In Uasin Gishu County,Food production is in jeopardy as floods ravage maize farms and now famers face significant losses as the Kipkaren River overflows, sweeping approximately 27 acres of maize fields.

CAPTION: Farmer pointing at his farmland swept by floods in Kipkenyo. PHOTO/Kipngeno Mutai
Farmer pointing at his farmland swept by floods in Kipkenyo ,Uasin Gishu County. PHOTO/Kipngeno Mutai

Speaking to hubzmedia.africa, farmers expressed concerns that the destruction of their maize crops, their primary investment, could lead to poverty and hunger if not addressed promptly.

They appealed to the government for assistance in addressing the situation since it’s the sole entity they can look up to in their plight.

Eliud Kibiwott, one of the affected farmers, recounts how his 2 and half acre maize farm was destroyed by floods. He says he is left with nothing after the whole of his maize farm was destroyed and now asks for government intervention in compensation to bring their lives back by replanting the maize or seeking alternative ways of tackling the starvation.

“We are in dire need of assistance from the government so that our lives can come back, our lives are in a very critical situation, the food security for this year is at risk and the need to put efforts to avert the same is very binding,” said Kibiwott.

Another affected farmer from Kipkaren in Uasin Gishu County stated, “Our maize fields have been devastated by floods, leaving us with nothing. We rely on the government of Kenya for support.”

Even the vegetables were not spared by the floods, David Sing’oei said his farm which is on the Kipkenyo river belt was swept away by the floods and cannot bounce back since they are hit by hard economic times in the country and now wants the government to come for their rescue.

The impact of the floods extends beyond agriculture, disrupting schools and businesses. Some schools remain closed, bearing the scars of the disaster.

The impact on food security is profound. With fields submerged and harvests destroyed, farmers are left with nothing to feed their families or sell at the market. The ripple effects are felt throughout the country, as food prices soar and shortages become commonplace.

Hunger gnaws at the edges of society, threatening to engulf those already living on the margins.

However, floods are not the only threat to Kenya’s food security.

In a twist of fate, farmers are also crippled by the scourge of fake fertilizers. Sold at a fraction of the cost of genuine products, these counterfeit substances promise bumper harvests but deliver only disappointment.

“This year we have had serious challenges as farmers, especially from the North rift region, ranging from the fake fertilizers and fertilizers, some of the maize planted using the fake fertilizers have failed to germinate and those which germinated look malnourished,” narrated Thomas Bowen, a maize farmer from Uasin Gishu County.

“It is a serious threat to our lives, if the government can sell fake fertilizer to the unsuspecting farmers then where are we heading to as the farmers, noting that the North rift region is the breadbasket of the country,” argued Kimutai Kolum another farmer.

Kolum further said the maize farms have turned yellowish.

To satisfy the demand of maize production, farmers need at least 650,000 tonnes of fertilizer.

Made from inferior ingredients and lacking essential nutrients, fake fertilizers not only fail to improve crop yields but can also damage the soil and contaminate the food grown in it.

The consequences extend far beyond individual farmers, affecting the entire food supply chain. Consumers unknowingly ingest produce tainted by fake fertilizers, exposing themselves to potential health risks.

In the face of these dual threats, the Kenyan government has taken steps to mitigate the damage. Initiatives aimed at improving flood resilience, such as the construction of levees and the planting of trees to prevent soil erosion, offer hope for the future. 

Similarly, efforts to crack down on the production and sale of fake fertilizers seek to protect farmers from the menace. 

Bumula member of parliament Jack Wamboka took a motion to the national assembly seeking the ouster of the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture and Livestock Development Mithika Linturi over the fake fertilizer saga where it was debated and voted and a select committee to look into the matter was formed. 

However, Wamboka’s efforts were watered down after 7 out of 11 select committee members voted in favor of Linturi where he was vindicated.

National Assembly Agricultural Committee led by Konoin Mp Brighton Yegon visited counties affected by the fake fertilizer collecting the data and  is yet to conclude their findings before tabling it in the parliament.

President Ruto while on his tour to the United States of America said the government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has initiated compensation for over 7000 registered farmers affected by the fake fertilizers.

“We have started compensation for the farmers to the equivalent fertilizer without having to pay and the Managing Director for the National Cereals Produce Board (NCPB) and the mentioned team awaits prosecution,” said President Ruto.

 

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