• Farmers have shifted from selling maize to NCPB and now prefer to do business with millers.
• The delay of payment by the National Cereals and Produce Board has forced farmers to sell their maize to millers to get money to buy seeds.
Farmers are opting to sell directly to millers due to delayed payments by State owned National cereals and produce Board.
They say they are urgently in need of quick cash to prepare their land, buy seeds, fertiliser in readiness for this season's planting.
“NCPB delays in payments while millers are paying cash. The millers have increased the prices from Sh1,800 to between Sh2,300 to Sh2,500 and are are now at per with what the government is offering. We are also guaranteed prompt payment,” a farmer from Eldoret said.
Albin Sang, the National Cereals and Produce Board managing director confirmed that business has slowed down at some of the depots.
“We no longer have long queues of lorries ferrying maize to the stores and instead, we have one to two lorries especially at the Eldoret depot which was busy,” he said.
Speaking to the Star yesterday, Sang said so far, they have received 415,000, 90 kilo bags of maize from farmers at a cost of Sh2,500 per bag.
Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo director said being the eleventh hour, farmers need money to buy inputs such as seeds and fertiliser and also for land preparation in readiness for the planting season.
“Most of the farmers had become desperate and sold maize to traders and middle men at a throw away price. The supply of maize has now reduced and millers have increased the price from Sh2, 500 to Sh2,300,” he said.
He said the commodity has become scarce and millers are combing villages to looking for supplies.
Millers now want the government to release maize from the Strategic Food Reserve.
Sang said the current stock of maize is at 4.1 million bags of 90 kgs.
This includes 3.6 million bags for the 2017/2018 harvest that was there before January 24 when the board opened its doors for farmers to start delivering maize. Another 200,000 bags from the 2017 maize imports and 415,000 bags for the 2018/2019 harvest.
Sang said the target was two million bags for the 2018/2019 harvest but the board is far from meeting this.
“SFR had given targets of 400 bags from the small scale farmers and we want to request them to waiver this so that farmers with more maize like the large scale farmers can start delivering to the depots. Some of the depots like the one in Nyahururu have only been able to deliver 5,000 bags against a capacity of 30,000 bags,” he said.
Sang added that Turkana County has purchased 35,000 while the ministry of devolution has bought 51, 000 (50kg) bags of maize for drought intervention and to support the over 1.1 million Kenyans affected by drought in 17 Counties.