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Food Production Feared To Drop Due To High Cost Of Fertilizers

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Prossy Nandudu 

Production of food items such as beans, maize, soybeans, Irish potatoes among others is to reduce this coming season due to high cost of fertilizers.

The mostly applied fertilizers by farmers for the above crops include DAP, CAN, Sulfan, Micro planting, Nitroba, NPK, Urea, Micro top dressing ammonium, Ammonium sulphate, among others.

Derick Kidandi, a fertilizer distributor at Mayira Farm Supply in Mbale city, explained that a 50kg bag of DAP, which contains both nitrogen and phosphorus, is being sold at sh200,000. In the last five months, a bag was going for sh140,000. It is applied on crops like maize at the start of the planting season.

CAN (Calcium Ammonium Nitrate) is a fertilizer used for top dressing on crops like maize.

Top dressing is when the fertilizer is applied around the plant after germination. This helps the plant to take in the fertilizer effectively to stimulate production. CAN is now going for sh170,000, up from sh135,000 five months ago. 

NPK (Nitrogen Phosphorus and Potassium) is a fertilizer applied on plants to promote leaf or vegetative formation, plant growth, and supports flowering and fruit formation. It is now selling at shs220,000, up from sh120,000 five months ago.

UREA, which promotes green leafy growth, is going for sh190,000, up from sh120,000 the previous season.

Other fertilizers include Microp planting, which was at sh135,000 five months ago, is now going for sh170,000. It is best for root formation in Irish potatoes.

Nitroba which was at sh35,000 is now selling at sh180,000. It promotes flowering in all crops and leaf or vegetative formation.

While Micro top dressing is being sold at sh180,000, up from sh135,000, it is good for beans, maize, soybeans, Irish potatoes, among others.

Kidandi attributed the low cost of fertilizers in the last five months to a fertilizer subsidy that was extended to farmers by the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) through the Sustain Africa Initiative.

Under the initiative, farmers would contribute 60% of the total cost of a 50kg bag of fertilizer, and the initiative that was composed of fertilizer importers like Yara East Africa and Export Trading Group (ETG) would contribute 30%.

“Without Government intervention, the country will go back to 2020 to 2021, where the demand for fertilizers was very low due to unaffordability,” said added Hasan Kato, a fertilizer distributor in Greater Masaka region.

He called for the extension of the subsidy programme through this year for farmers to fully recover from the effects of COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war, through agriculture production.

“Let us have a follow-up like it is in Kenya throughout the two seasons to sustain production in our region. This will help increase household incomes and also us the distributors and traders of fertilizers and agriculture inputs,” said Kato.

Joel Kakaire, the AFAP country manager, explained that the initiative was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Rabobank, as an emergency response to support Ugandan farmers get back to production after the effects of COVID-19.

Some effects led to the closure of manufacturing plants and wastage of raw materials that would have been used to manufacture products such as fertilizers, hence the hike in prices.

The programme was spread through 120 districts and at least 310 agro-dealers were involved directly, benefiting over 70,000 smallholder farmers.

“Over the last three months, the programme has led to an increase in the harvest of especially maize and beans, and a promising harvest from coffee, bananas, Irish potatoes,” said Kakaire.

Kakaire said discussions are ongoing with partners who participated in the first initiative and new partners to see if the programme can be extended.

PHOTO CAPTION: A fertiliser suppliers in Mbale stuck with fertilisers. Photo by Prossy Nandudu 

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