Written by Rosemary Wachiye
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Farmers who had camped at the Webuye NCPB for fertilizer which they later learnt the depot had no more to sell. Photo/ Rosemary Wachiye.
The price of fertilizer has shot up in most parts of Bungoma County due to acute shortage which has hit the region with some of the depots which usually supply it to farmers at a subsidised price running out of stock.
This was revealed Monday at the Webuye NCPB depot where farmers with fury arrived at the National Cereals and Produce Board of Webuye demanding for fertilizer from the management of the board amid the start of the rainy season.
They claimed that the previous week the board had received 5,000 bags of fertilizer from the Ministry of Agriculture meant for farmers but when they arrived at the board to acquire the fertilizer they were requested by management to return the following week.
They explain that at the time the fertilizer was being repackaged in NCPB bags since the fertilizers had been transported in falcon company bags, a process that went on up to late that Friday.
On arrival at the board Monday morning, they were shocked to be told that the fertilizer was already over and there were only 98 bags left which had already been purchased the previous week.
“Last week there was fertilizer in the stores and we were told to come back this week since they were repackaging them but on arriving this morning we were shocked to learn that there was none left for selling,” said Mr. Godfrey Makokha, a farmer.
“I was here on Thursday but I didn’t get fertilizer after the day was over and I was told to come back on Friday of which I still didn’t get any and yet I had already paid and had my voucher with me,” said Mr. Benard Wafula.
Others explained to West Fm that while most of them were asked to queue up at the board to be served by the cashier, those well off were given bank accounts and told to pay directly at the bank then only to pick the fertilizer.
“The system at the board makes it difficult for some of us who belong to low social class to get fertilizer since we are not given the same opportunities, those of high social class are even given account numbers and pay off before getting here, but for us we are forced to queue up,” said Gladys Wanyonyi.
They blamed the management for selling off large quantities of fertilizers to businessmen instead of farmers who were only in need of small quantities and yet the fertilizer was meant for farmers who had even set an agreement with the board to only sell up to 10 bags per person.
“Some of us who only need two or three bags of fertilizer can’t get while business men buy as much as 200 bags at our own cost and want to later on sell them to a farmer at almost double the price,” said Mr.Makokha.
They blamed the management for selling off fertilizer at unlawful time like during weekends and late hours of the night to none farmers.
There move to call upon the District Commissioner to address their grievances did not succeed while at the same time they did not receive any official communication from the depot manager as the Administration Police arrived and chased them from the premises as well as stopping them from demonstrating.
However, in an exclusive interview, the Depot Manager Ms. Laureen Atieno dismissed the claims that she had sold off fertilizer to none farmers in large quantities and said that all the fertilizer she received had been purchased by farmers who had documents to prove.
“I have never sold off fertilizer to none farmers or business men, all that have been sold to had documentation from the Ministry of Agriculture,” said Ms.Atieno.
She explains that the fertilizer received was low compared to the demand of fertilizers from farmers all over the region which cannot serve all the farmers but still re assured the farmers that there will be more fertilizer in the board by Thursday this week.
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