Small-scale tea farmers have been struck by good news following Kenya Tea Development Agency”s (KTDA) announcement to commence distributing fertilizer to them next week.
The announcement of the 63,500 metric tonne-fertilizer worth Ksh2.2 Billion follows the arrival of a ship carrying more than 31,000 metric tonnes today at Mombasa Port, the first consignment of the fertilizer.
The ship, MV Thor Energy, is set to begin discharging the fertilizer from today for onward transportation by contracted truckers to the 65 KTDA-managed tea factories upcountry.
The factories will distribute the fertilizer to more than 560,000 tea farmers affiliated to KTDA. The second consignment of fertilizer is expected in the country in August.
The NPK 26: 5: 5 chemically compounded fertilizer was imported from Romania following the award of an international tender earlier in the year.
“We are dispatching the fertilizer immediately to the respective tea factories throughout the country so that farmers can start applying it as soon as possible,” said KTDA Holdings CEO, Mr Lerionka Tiampati.
Mr Tiampati added that 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.
He assured tea farmers that the price was very competitive. Mr Tiampati noted that KTDA was able to obtain high quality fertilizer at the most competitive price because it bought it in bulk directly from the manufacturer.
Last year, the price per 50kg bag was around Ksh2, 466 on average, with slight variations in price per factory depending on their respective distances from Mombasa Port. Fertilizer application is crucial to better tea yield and leaf quality.
Bushes that are starved of fertilizer normally produce poor quality tea and very low yields. KTDA teas are hand-picked and maintain the unequalled plucking standard of two-leaves and a bud that ensures KTDA teas are of the highest quality in the world.
The KTDA Fertilizer Credit Scheme enables farmers to pay in installments for the fertilizer they have ordered for application on their farms. These payments are made over several months to ease the farmers’ burden on the purchase of fertilizer, which is a major input cost in tea farming.
Last year, small-scale tea farmers who supply green leaf to the 65 KTDA-managed tea factories earned a record Ksh 40.5 Billion from the crop, attributed to stable tea prices, favourable exchange rates and efficient management of factory processes.