KENYA – The Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism, a special fund of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), has launched a US$2 million credit guarantee scheme aimed at boosting the uptake of fertilizer among Kenyan smallholder farmers.

The project involves a US$2 million partial credit guarantee and a US$219,000 grant to Nairobi-based technology company Apollo Agriculture Limited, enabling the delivery of nearly 8,000 tonnes of fertilizer.

Speaking at the launch, Nnenna Nwabufo, AfDB Director-General for East Africa, stated that the financing would allow Apollo to extend credit for agricultural inputs to 100,000 smallholder farmers in two counties in western Kenya.

This project aligns with the bank’s Feed Africa Strategy as it will ensure the long-term engagement of the private sector in financing fertilizer to increase food production and enhance food security in Kenya,” Nwabufo said.

She explained that the three-year program, targeting maize farmers, will mitigate the risk of default by farmers accessing agricultural inputs on credit.

Paul Ronoh, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, emphasized that the credit scheme is expected to enhance the country’s agricultural productivity by increasing fertilizer usage from 8 kg per hectare to 50 kg.

Ronoh added that farmers are expected to repay the credit upon selling their produce, thus maintaining the cycle and ensuring sustainability.

The launch coincides with a fertilizer scandal in the country, as the Ministry of Agriculture has suspended the operations of Ms KEL Chemicals and ordered the immediate confiscation of its fertilizer products sold in the Kenyan market.

This action followed the completion of tests on all fertilizers distributed to farmers nationwide under the subsidy program, revealing that counterfeit fertilizer was being circulated.

According to tests conducted by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), Kelphos Plus, Kelphos Gold, and NPK 10:26:10 manufactured by KEL Chemicals did not meet the specified requirements.

This issue affects KEL Chemicals fertilizers distributed between 5th and 10th March 2024,” the Ministry stated.

The Ministry of Agriculture has also instructed the immediate seizure of the three identified brands.

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