Fertilizer Quality Assessment in Markets of Kenya

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With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), IFDC is conducting a series of fertilizer quality assessments in Eastern and Southern Africa. Kenya was selected to be the starting country because its large fertilizer market and complex distribution chain provide a good opportunity to test and adjust the methodology for assessment of fertilizer quality in other member states of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and East African Community (EAC). The objective of the studies is to conduct fertilizer quality diagnostics in these countries to support the development and implementation of a fertilizer trade and quality regulatory system for these regional economic communities (RECs). In Kenya, the fertilizer quality assessment team used a random approach to select fertilizer dealers and collect samples for analysis. Data were also collected on fertilizer markets, dealers, products, and storage conditions in the country. Diammonium phosphate (DAP), calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN), urea, NPK 23-23-0, and NPK 17-17-17 represented nearly 90% of the fertilizer samples collected, reflecting the importance of these five products in the Kenyan markets. The diagnostic about fertilizer quality of fertilizers traded in a country or a region is based in the frequency and severity of the “out of compliance” (OOC) for individual nutrients in the fertilizers: Total nitrogen (N) OOC frequency in urea is zero while N OOC frequency for the rest of products ranges between 4% (in DAP) and 31% (in 17-17-17); available phosphorus (P2O5) OOC frequency ranges between 12% (in DAP) and 36% (in 17-17-17); and soluble potassium (K2O) OOC frequency is 63% of the 17-17-17 samples. The severity of N OOC ranges between 1.5% N shortage in DAP and 4.7% N shortage in NPK 23-23-0. The severity for P2O5 OOC ranges between 3.3% P2O5 shortage in NPK 17-17-17 and 4.6% P2O5 shortage in NPK 23-23-0. The only K2O shortage is 1% in NPK 17-17-17. No fillers or foreign substances that suggest adulteration by dilution of nutrients were found, not even in rebagged fertilizers. There are anecdotal reports of adulteration in fertilizers distributed by the government subsidy program, fertilizers sampled in two NCPB warehouses did not show evidences of adulteration but more extensive sampling in NCPBs is needed to identify possible adulteration in subsidized fertilizers. No severe degradation of the fertilizers’ physical properties were identified; samples did not contain granule fines or dust in high proportions and did not have high moisture content or caking, which could produce uneven distribution of nutrients in the bags. The only plausible explanation remaining for the nutrients being out of compliance in these granulated products is that the nutrient deficiencies originated during the manufacture. The effective inspection of imported products in ports is necessary. Liquid and crystal fertilizers have serious quality problems. All liquid fertilizers sampled and analyzed were out of nutrient content compliance for the three macronutrients. Total N shortages ranged from 3.6% to 22.5%; P2O5 shortages ranged from 3.8% to 18.8%; and K2O shortages ranged from 2.2% to 19.6%. On average, the N, P, and K shortage severities in liquid fertilizers were four times higher than in the granulated fertilizers. All crystal fertilizers were out of compliance for total N and K2O, and presented macronutrient shortages with a severity average two times higher than in conventional granulated fertilizers. It is apparent that the crystal and liquid fertilizers do not go through a quality assurance process before going out to the markets. Despite the serious low quality problems of crystal and liquid products, there is a market for them, primarily because of limited implementation of the existing fertilizer quality rules. The cadmium content found in fertilizers containing P2O5 traded in Kenya (maximum 2.9 ppm) is well below maximum allowances recommended by Kenya (30 ppm) and international standards. The frequency of bag weight shortages increases with fertilizer rebagging. Weight shortages were found in 14.5% of the original 50-kilogram (kg) bags, in 23.5% of the 25-kg bags, and in 33.5% of the 10-kg bags. Lower temperatures and lower relative humidity relative to outside are needed to preserve fertilizer quality during storage, but 50% of the warehouses or storage areas in retailers’ shops in Kenya do not reduce temperature relative to the temperature outside the building; similarly, 37% of the storage facilities do not reduce the relative humidity with respect to the relative humidity outside. Hot and wet storage conditions result from absent or insufficient ventilation and poor air circulation through the storage area because of limited or no use of pallets and because no space is left between bag stacks and walls and between stacks and the roof. The majority of granulated fertilizers are bagged in impermeable bags that preserve the products from contact with water and from absorbing moisture from the environment. However, high moisture content was found in 7% of the DAP samples, 10% of the CAN samples, and 16% of the 23-23-0 samples as a result of non-impermeable bags used, torn bags, or loose bag seams in addition to the hot and moist conditions of many storage facilities. Degradation of granular integrity of fertilizers is not a major concern in Kenya; the most widely used fertilizers had more than 90% of the material in granule sizes between 1.0 millimeter (mm) and 4.0 mm. The 15% fines (granules between 1.0 and 2.8 mm) found in urea is explained by the combined sampling of granular and prilled urea. The percentage of fines found in fertilizers was low in general, but an analysis of particle size variation against distance from the port of entrance showed increase of fertilizer fine particles as a result of transportation and the accumulation of forces exerted on the fertilizer granules when fertilizers bags are handled manually and individually along the distribution chain. Market and fertilizer dealer characteristics may have a significant effect on the quality of fertilizers. Data from Kenya indicated that fertilizers sold in rural markets are less likely to comply with the nutrient content specified on the label than fertilizers sold in urban markets. Similarly, compliance with the nutrient content was lower in fertilizers sold in shops with only small-scale farmer customers than in shops with customers of all types of farmers and fertilizer retailers. These results have implications for fertilizer policy, regulations, and institutional structure. First, it is important that a credible system be established to ensure more stringent pre-export verification of conformity (PVoC) carried out by reputable and internationally accredited companies. This should be followed by confirmatory inspections at the destination port, especially for products that have a history of poor quality or whose origins are suspect. Routine targeted inspections along the domestic value chain, particularly at retail, will help maintain quality; the inspections especially should capture rebagged products, which are more likely to present nutrient and weight shortages. In addition, training of distributors and agro-dealers on best practices in handling fertilizers and maintaining appropriate storage facilities will provide further support. The capacities of agencies in charge of quality regulations, including laboratory equipment and human or technical expertise, need to be improved. Finally, it is crucial to have a mechanism in place for farmers and other stakeholders to share their complaints on quality to relevant authorities/agencies for action. Therefore, updating the current quality regulatory framework, with clear roles for relevant agencies, in addition to harmonizing regulations across countries, will support the above recommendations and increase access to quality fertilizers. 3 Section 1. Introduction Twenty-six percent of the Kenyan gross domestic product and 65% of the country’s export income are derived from agriculture. Agriculture provides 70% of informal employment and 18% of formal employment. The National Agricultural Investment Plan (NAIP) recognizes the important role played by fertilizers and complementary inputs in the growth of this sector (Oseko, 2014). Kenya’s fertilizer market is relatively well-developed compared to other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It is dominated by the private sector with the government providing regulatory oversight and implementation of subsidy programs. During the 2013/14 season, an estimated 665,373 metric tons of fertilizers comprising 37 fertilizer types were consumed, valued at approximately $357 million. The fertilizer distribution chain in Kenya is composed of about 68 importers, 800 distributors, 3,000 wholesalers, and more than 8,000 retailers supplying products to a farmer population with 80% small-scale farmers (Oseko, 2014). Due to its size and complexity, this market poses a challenge to regulators because of the financial and human resource capacity required to cover the expansive territory and markets with numerous distributors and traders at several levels. Fertilizer regulations in Kenya are under the mandate of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries (MoALF), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS). KEBS is charged with standardization and conformity assessment for all products while KEPHIS provides assurance on the quality of agricultural inputs and produce. The Fertilizers and Animal Foodstuffs Act, Chapter 345 (Revised 2014) regulates the importation, manufacture, and sale of agricultural fertilizers and animal foodstuffs. There is growing recognition in Eastern and Southern Africa that existing national fertilizer policies and regulations need to be updated and harmonized. A number of countries are involved in consultations to integrate and enforce quality standards to reduce fertilizer market distortions
Sampling, Fertilizers
Sanabria, J., J. Ariga, and D. Mose. 2018. Fertilizer Quality Assessment in Markets of Kenya, IFDC.