The government will conduct a countrywide farmer registration drive to facilitate the distribution of subsidized fertilizer and guide the development of key agricultural policies.
The exercise follows a presidential directive on the creation of a digitized national farmer register to weed out impostors and rogue traders who have been exploiting farmers.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi said the readymade database will provide managed access to government programs by farmers and ensure traceability, accountability and transparency in the implementation of the fertilizer subsidy programmes and help the state avail more customized benefits to farmers across the country.
“Previously, the government fertilizer subsidy programmes have witnessed malpractices that included infiltration by non-beneficiaries and unscrupulous traders who accessed and resold the subsidized fertilizers at higher prices,” he said.
The CS added such exploitation derailed the government’s objective of facilitating the small-scale farmers, who contribute over 60 per cent of agricultural production.
He was speaking during the opening of a Training of Trainers (ToT) at the Kenya School of Government in Lower Kabete.
The trainers comprising 188 Assistant County Commissioners are expected to train Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs in their respective Counties to facilitate the digital registration and uptake of the subsidized fertilizers from the various agro-dealers within their locality before the onset of the 2023 long rains season.
“The government has committed to subsidize a total of 388,000MT of various types of fertilizer for the 2023 long rains. This will ensure that the targeted farmer beneficiaries access the fertilizers at subsidized prices.”
The process will be conducted by various government Ministries, County Governments and agencies under the coordination of the Office of the Deputy President.
Interior Principal Secretary Dr Raymond Omollo underscored the utility of the Whole of Government approach during the registration drive, which will be launched soon after the conclusion of training of the administrators on the modalities and substance of the programme.
“The National Government Administration has been embraced as the grassroots structure to spearhead public education, awareness raising, mobilization, identification and registration of farmers countrywide for consideration in the distribution of the fertilizer.”
He added the robust and elaborate National Government Administrative Officers (NGAO) structure that comprises 8 Regions, 47 Counties, 369 Sub Counties, 978 Divisions, 3,950 Locations and 9,043 Sub Locations will ensure a coordinated registration process within the given timelines.
However, the PS warned of decisive action against any government field officer intending to turn the free registration programme into a rent-seeking venture.
“We must give all our support to this exercise, not only because it is a government policy but also as a civic duty and responsibility to our fellow citizens.”
The process will be voluntary and based on informed decisions by the farmers upon appreciating the reason for registration, and Omollo urged the administrators to go out of their way in mitigating and managing any misinformation that may accrue from this programme by providing factual information.