Kenya Tea Development Agency Management Services (KTDA MS) has suspended the importation of fertilizer for smallholder tea farmers for the year 2020 due to the effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
KTDA MS imports fertilizer on behalf of its over 600,000 smallholder tea farmers for application during the short rains in October/November of every year.
In a statement Monday, they say the bulk importation enables tea farmers to benefit from economies of scale, competitive prices and deliveries right at their tea buying centres.
“In this regard, KTDA MS sought and obtained expert advice from the Tea Research Institute on the effects on productivity of skipping one year of fertilizer application.
The advice was that it is possible to skip one year with no significant losses in yields, subject to adequate rainfall. However, the subsequent application should not be delayed, to avoid further yield losses,” part of the statement reads.
On the basis of the advice, the board suspended the tender for the importation of fertilizer to next season.
Farmers will be refunded the contributions they have made in the last seven months along with accrued interest.
“Farmers who may wish to apply fertilizer to their farms notwithstanding the above advice may source the same from government-approved commercial suppliers with tea fertilizer stocks. KTDA will advise all stakeholders of the commencement of the next year’s procurement,” added the statement.
KTDA Holdings Ltd manages 69 factories in the small-scale tea sub-sector in Kenya.