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A French fertiliser manufacturer has opened a regional office in Nairobi and signed a distributorship agreement with a local dealer to ease its entry into the Kenyan market.
Roullier Group—one of the largest suppliers of fertiliser in the world, has signed a distributorship deal with MEA Ltd, an established dealer in Kenya with a supply network through its subsidiary Timac Agro Kenya.
The French firm is banking on the projected fall in usage of the common Di ammonium Phosphate (DAP) fertiliser which some have blamed for declining productivity and alleged increase of soil acidity in some areas.
Roullier produces what it calls “specificity fertiliser” that it says contains a “specificity molecule” that eases absorption of crop nutrients.
The manufacturer, however, faces stiff competition from the government-funded subsidised fertiliser that is imported in bulk.
A bag of government-subsidised DAP costs Sh2,480 and between Sh3,900 and Sh4,000 in the market while Timac Agro fertiliser will cost about 30 per cent more than conventional fertiliser.
“We met the (Agriculture) minister and he (complained) about the price which is understandable. This is a patented product with heavy investment on research and development and demanding production process,” said Wamae Mwangi, the Timac Agro country manager.
Roullier says its expansion to Kenya was informed by the high fertiliser dependence and usage by local farmers. Kenya ranks second after South Africa on the continent with a usage of 33 kilogrammes of fertiliser per acre. The southern nation uses an average 59 kilogrammes of fertiliser per acre.
Kenya’s total fertiliser consumption stands at between 5,000 to 6,000 tonnes annually, yet it has no manufacturing factory but only some blending facilities.
Specificity fertiliser is a new concept in East and Central Africa. Large scale farmers, educational and research institutions are Roullier’s main target clients.
Egerton University has already shown interest.
“Egerton has indicated they will purchase fertiliser from us. Working with institutions is the best thing because Egerton happens to also provide training sessions to farmers. This stands to help us a lot,” said Mr Wamae.
In Uganda, Timac Agro will work with Msanja Agro chemicals. Roullier Group is an independent, family-based industrial firm with operations in more than 45 countries. In Africa, the firm has presence in Algeria, Ivory Coast, Morocco and Senegal. Its annual global turnover is valued at €3.1 billion as of 2012.
The company manufactures field and fertigation grade fertiliser—ideal for greenhouse and open fertigation farming.
The fertiliser market in Kenya has in the past two years seen increased interest from investors.
This includes the recent trip to Russia by President Uhuru Kenyatta where he negotiated for affordable fertiliser deals.
– Business Daily