Shaking the Agricultural Sector: KEBS Makes Serious Accusations of Fertilizer Fraud against SBL-Innovate Manufacturer Limited


Accusing a Kenyan-based regional fertilizer merchant of fraud, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) revealed that the firm had supplied substandard fertilizer to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).

Documents tabled before the National Assembly Agriculture 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 January 13 and secured approval on January 28, 2023.

KEBS Managing Director Esther Ngari told MPs that initially, the company had complied with all requirements which prompted the agency to issue them permits to supply organic fertilizer but later committed fraud by violating the standards.

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.

“During our surveillance, we sampled the product that was being sold in agrovets and finally got intelligence that the product was being supplied through NCPB stores. Test reports showed the product failed on organic matter,” Ngari said.

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.

“We haven’t received any communication from NCPB in regards to this particular matter even as they were distributing,” Ngari stated.

Tigania West MP John Mutunga who chairs the committee raised queries on how the fake fertilizer remained on the market for a year questioning the effectiveness of KEBS surveillance.

Ineffective surveillance

“How often do you do your surveillance, what is the effect to the farmers that bought and used this fertilizer, does it have any effect to the crops?” Mutunga posed.

“Your surveillance system, we need to know how long they go out there to survey product on sale and how often they report counterfeit because the product has been in circulation in 2023,” he added.

Soy MP David Kiplagat raised eyebrows on how the NCPB ware stores across the country were distributing fake fertilizers unknowingly

“What’s the relationship between KEBS, NCPB and SBL-Innovate manufacturers? Did NCPB seek assurance from KEBS that the product was certified before distributing? he posed.

KEBS asserted that it had initiated legal proceedings against SBL Innovate Manufacturers Limited even as it remained unclear on the product quantity in the market.

“We have written to the Director of Public Prosecution so that we can be able to prosecute the matter under the standard act,” said Ngari.

The parliamentary probe came hours after the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) seized 700 bags of suspected fake fertilizer in Kakamega.

Farmers in the area said the fertilizer sold to them contained stones.

Kenya Insights understands SBL Kenya, under the stewardship of Mr. Joe Kariuki, who is the company CEO, has been making inroads into some of Tanzania’s remotest farming districts, selling affordable fertilizer across towns and divisions, with the help and blessing of Tanzania’s largest fertilizer company, TFC (Tanzania Fertilizer Company).

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