KENYA – The Kenya National Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has seized 5,840 bags of substandard fertiliser from National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) stores across the country.

KEBS said it launched a probe following a tip-off from the public, resulting in the seizure of 5,840 bags in a surveillance raid.

This issue came to light during a session of the National Assembly Agriculture and Livestock Committee, where Kebs management revealed the presence of counterfeit fertilizer still circulating in the market, urging Kenyans to exercise caution.

Esther Ngari, Kebs Managing Director, revealed that fertilizer labelled GPC plus Organics, packaged in 25-kilogram bags and distributed to NCPB outlets by SBL-innovate Manufacturers Limited, was substandard and had not been certified by Kebs.

Ngari submitted that after testing 59 sample bags sourced from various NCPB outlets, they had concluded that the said fertiliser was substandard and was not the organic fertiliser that the company had been certified to supply.

The bags were obtained from NCPB outlets in Elburgon (68), Kipkaren saliet (31) and Ziwa (45) just to name a few.

“The fertiliser had high levels of PH, is dolomite in nature as it is composed of calcium, magnesium and carbonate whose purpose is to only act as a soil conditioner yet the required fertiliser in the Kenyan soil is organic fertiliser that is required to add nutrients and sustain growth,” said Ngari.

Supplier breached standards

KEBS has accused the Kenyan-based regional fertilizer merchant of fraud asserting that it had initiated legal proceedings against the company even as it remained unclear on the product quantity in the market.

Documents tabled before the National Assembly Agriculture Committee by KEBS showed how SBL-Innovate Manufacturer Limited supplied substandard fertilizer dubbed ‘BL-GPC’ for over a year undetected.

KEBS said the firm applied for certification on January 13 and secured approval on January 28, 2023

In defence, however, Ngari told MPs that initially, the company had complied with all requirements which prompted the agency to issue them permits to supply organic fertilizer but later committed fraud by violating the standards.

In addition, the standards agency certified SBL-Innovate Manufacturer to supply organic fertilizer but the firm supplied diatomite, which relies on a biologically generated form of Silica to enhance soil conditions, to NCPB stores.

 “During our surveillance, we sampled the product that was being sold in agrovets and finally got intelligence that the product was being supplied through NCPB stores. Test reports showed the product failed on organic matter,” Ngari said.

For months, farmers unknowingly purchased the product bearing KEBS certification.

The committee, therefore, sought to know why the institution had taken time before commencing investigations and carrying out tests on substandard fertiliser.

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