Ruto’s fertilizer plan is the center of diplomatic gaffe involving Kenya, Morocco, and the Sahrawi Arab Republic.
In his inauguration speech, President William Ruto made a public pledge to lower fertilizer prices from the current Sh6,500 to Sh3,500 per 50-kilogram bag.
And after holding a trade meeting with Nasser Bourita, the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Morocco, Ruto intends to start importing fertilizer from the West African country.
The Maroc is the biggest producer of fertilizer on the African continent and according to a local publication, the first 1.4 million bags of fertilizer will come from Morocco, with Ruto’s government seeking to make longer-term arrangements in that area hoping to see fertilizer prices remain low or stable.
Moroccan company OCP (Office Chérifien des Phosphates) is the world’s leading manufacturer of phosphate-based fertilizers, with a third of the world market and over $6 billion in revenue in 2021.
President William Ruto said that Kenya’s relations with the Kingdom of Morocco would be “speeded up in areas of trade, agriculture, health, tourism, energy, among others, for the mutual benefit of our countries.”
“High prices of fertilizer are one of the main reasons the cost of food has become unaffordable”, William Ruto said repeatedly during his campaign for the presidency, “and we will lower it when elected.”
“Long term, to use a practical example, if the new President wishes to establish lower fertiliser prices for farmers without subsidies and other unsustainable mid- to long-term measures as were being previously done with oil under the previous regime, he may wish to get Kenya into intra-trade with a company like OCP, which means the foreign policies of both countries have to be aligned in a friendly axis for the mutual benefit of Kenya and Maroc,” a Counsellor Delegate to the United Nations Office, who is privy to these trade discussions said.
According to reports, behind the scenes, talks on fertilizer trade, cost, import, and investment are ongoing between the two nations.
And now it seems Ruto’s fertilizer plan is the source of diplomatic tiff involving Kenya and the Sahrawi after Ruto denounced the Moroccan breakaway republic.
A Counsellor Delegate to the United Nations Office said there is no practical benefit for Kenya in engaging on Saharawi issues outside of the UN framework.
He added Kenya stands to benefit more by maintaining good diplomatic relations with Morocco that breakaway Saharwi province.