A new fertiliser blending factory will be commissioned in Mombasa mid next month in a move expected to help tame the high prices of farm inputs and address perpetual food shortages.

Located in Bonje, the plant has a daily output capacity of 150,000 tonnes and will blend products in different colours to keep off rogue distributors.

It says it will employ 1,800 people who have already undergone training on how to run it.

Operated by the Export Trading Group, a multinational based in Kenya, the facility will produce soil-specific brands of fertilisers.

“For a long time, farmers have been using fertilisers that do not address the specific needs of their soils.

“With this new technology, however, fertilisers will be produced depending on the nutrient needs of different soils in different areas,” Mr Shem Odhiambo, the firm’s country director, told journalists at the company premises on Thursday.

“We are preparing ourselves for the 2018 high season and soil analysis and tests for different regions are already in progress.

“The soil testing and analysis for the country’s food baskets such as Rift Valley and Central have been completed. Work is in progress in other regions so that by January 2018, all farmers would be able to access the blended fertilisers,” said Mr Odhiambo.

If properly applied, said Mustan Taibali, the firm’s head of fertiliser, the blended input is able to increase yields by more than 30 per cent.

“Ultimately, this is a technology that would address the perpetual food crisis in Kenya, besides empowering millions of our farmers economically,” he said, adding that the plant would not only serve Kenya but also Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kenya has been encouraging local production and blending of fertilisers to help cut import costs and reduce subsidies needed to make it affordable for peasant farmers.

In March this year, Japanese conglomerate Toyota Tsusho launched a blending plant in Eldoret, though its impact is yet to be fully felt.

For some time now, the government has been pushing for the setting up of a fertiliser plant in the country so as to cushion farmers from high costs and erratic supplies of the commodity.

By GITONGA MARETE || Daily Nation
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