Pressure mounts as legislators demand special audit on fake fertilizer

KEBS had accused a Kenyan-based regional fertilizer merchant of fraud after it emerged the firm supplied substandard fertilizer to the NCPB
Special audit on fake fertilizer demanded by MPs
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Top officials within the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) are now on the radar after Members of Parliament called for a special audit on the allegation of fake fertilizer across the country.

KEBS had accused a Kenyan-based regional fertilizer merchant of fraud after it emerged the firm supplied substandard fertilizer to the NCPB.

The National Assembly Public Investment Committee on Commercial Affairs and Energy has directed the Office of the Auditor General to conduct an audit within one month which is set to recommend prosecution of individuals in the scandal.

The audit will seek to ascertain whether top officials within KEBS colluded with individuals involved in the scandal and whether they lost their guard in protecting the consumers from harmful substances.

We need to know the batching mechanism for KEBS to ascertain are these people passive that the only give okay to manufacturers and leave it there. Is that the case, if so then we are doomed as Kenyans,” said Pokot South MP David Pkosing who chairs the committee.

This came amidst calls by the members of the committee for the resignation of high ranking officials within KEBS to pave way for investigations.

In this monumental fraud, have you considered as KEBS to take responsibility on the scandal. Can you resign to give room for investigation,” remarked Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi.

MPs have sought answers on the Memorandum of Understanding between the SBL Innovate Manufacturers Limited and NCPB in the fake fertilizer distribution that has hoodwinked farmers ahead of the planting season.

Lawmakers raised concerns that individuals involved took advantage of the loopholes in KEBS distribution chain which exposed farmers to fake fertilizer.

The Special audit report will also seek findings on the track and trace mechanisms by KEBS in a bid to recall all the fake fertilizers in the market distributed by NCPB.

KEBS Managing Director Esther Gitari had told MPs the fake fertilizer distribution scandal is under investigations with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution seized of the matter for prosecution.

We have written to the ODPP on the matter and given all the documents we have from our investigation courtesy of our surveillance,” Gitari stated.

However, MPs raised questions why the culpable individuals in the scandal have not been arrested weeks after the issue was flagged by KEBS.

Why is the person involved in the scandal still around. You don’t have mechanism as a country to arrest him? He should be in jail or in heaven,” Pkosing said.

KEBS MD allayed fears that the fake fertilizer was still in distribution saying their surveillance team has seized the fake product in the NCPB stores curtailing their distribution.

We have seized all the products that was in circulation from NCPB and given instructions to the firm to do a recall to all the products in the market,” Gitari assured.

Wandayi poked holes on the assertions by KEBS demanding explanations on how and where the fake fertilizer was morphed up.

If they say they have seized all fertilizer in circulation, what do they mean? What do you mean by all?” posed Wandayi.

This thing is just common sense, the fertilizer is with the old women in the villages and we are being bashed left and right that we are distributing fake fertilizer,” added Bungoma Woman Representative Catherine Wambilianga.

Aldai MP Maryanne Keitany pushed for the special audit report to ascertain details on the numbers of people who bought the fertilizer in a bid to refund the farmers by the firm in question.

NCPB know who they have sold the fertilizer too so the investigation by the Auditor General should seek details on who bought the fertilizer because it’s the interest of my grandmother and mother to be refunded,” demanded Keittany.

Pkosing added: “The dilemma is that we are not sure whether all the products have been seized from the farmers. We might be speaking all the good English but our people are dying.”

Documents tabled before the parliamentary 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 13 January and secured approval on 28 January, 2023.

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.

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

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

Following the intelligence, NCPB sampled the product in over 59 ware stores across the country which led to the suspension of the product permits amid fears that the product may still be in circulation.


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