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Kenya to import Russian fertilizer

19 August 2013, 10:46

Moscow -  Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta wrapped up his visit to Russia on Saturday evening with the host government pledging to support the East African nation's efforts towards securing agro-fertilizers in adequate quantities and at an affordable cost.

According to a statement issued in Nairobi on Sunday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said his government will assist Kenya to access fertilizer directly from Russian producers without going through middle men.

"Towards this end, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister said he looked forward to the visit by the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Felix Koskei who is expected in Moscow, Russia, in a week's time for further discussions in this regard," said the statement.

The development force as the East African nation has scaled up the use of organic fertilizer as the farmers seek to improve the fertility of their soils.

On one hand, synthetic fertilizer that is usually imported is expensive, and on the other hand, farmers cannot be able to build- up stock of organic fertilizer, also known as manure because they do not have enough farm waste.

The problem, according to scientists from the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (KARI), is that while the organic fertilizers can supplement the lack of synthetic fertilizers, the farms are small and therefore unable to produce enough farm waste. In other cases, the same farm waste is competing for other on-farm needs.

For instance, maize and rice stalks that can be used to make organic fertilizer are used as feeds for livestock while the maize cobs are used as wood fuel.

While the livestock waste would be the most ideal for the making of the organic fertilizer, most farmers have only few or no livestock. It becomes even harder to collect the livestock waste where farmers are not practicing zero grazing.

Kenyan Cabinet Secretary Koskei is expected to meet his Russian counterpart as well as the Russian Association of Fertilizers Producers.

Cooperation between the two countries

The commitment from the Russian government was in response to President Uhuru Kenyatta's appeal for partnership with the Russian government as well as investors in the production of fertilizer, when he addressed the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation on Friday.

Kozak further said the Russian government is ready to increase the number of education scholarships in areas of specific interest to Kenya.

He hailed cooperation between the two countries in the area of education observing that over 1500 Kenyan students have graduated from Russian universities.

The Russian PM also said the Russian security agencies will establish contacts with their Kenyan counterparts in support of Kenya's efforts in dealing with terrorism.

In response to the desire of the Kenyan government to initiate cooperation in sports with the Russian Government, Kozak said he will personally initiate consultations towards this end.

"As two sports power houses, our two countries can cooperate in a wide range of areas including the development of sports facilities and training," Kozak said.

Africa in particular has been facing the challenge of less fertilizer use because of the cost as nearly all the fertilizer used in the continent is imported.

Efforts by specific African countries to manufacture fertilizers have either failed or are now being implemented.

But soil fertility experts said here that farmers, especially small holder farmers should be educated on alternative fertilizers essentially that are made from conversion of farm waste into organic fertilizer.

There is also the concept of using crops that inject nutrients into the soils, but this information has been lacking from most of the farmers.

The Russian prime minister hailed Kenya for her outstanding performance in field and track events saying the ongoing 14th IAAF World Championship had narrowed down to a competition between Kenya, Russia, the United States and Jamaica largely relegating other countries to the level of spectators.

Kenyatta expressed his satisfaction with the bilateral relations between Kenya and Russia adding that the two countries have continued to support each other at the multilateral level.

The president, however, noted that engagement between the two countries in the economic arena has not matched the levels enjoyed in the political and social spheres.

The president therefore underscored the need to enhance cooperation in trade and investments.

He called upon Russian investors to venture in the country saying there are lucrative investment opportunities in many sectors of the economy especially in agriculture, power generation and transmission, infrastructure development and tourism.

The head of state extended an invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Kenya. 


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