Farmers threaten to boycott goat auction over NHIF cuts

Some 2,590 goats were sold during Kimalel Goat Auction in Baringo South Sub-county on December 22, 2018. /JOSEPH KANGOGO
Some 2,590 goats were sold during Kimalel Goat Auction in Baringo South Sub-county on December 22, 2018. /JOSEPH KANGOGO

Baringo farmers have threatened to boycott goat auctions because of mandatory National Hospital Insurance Fund deductions.

A total of 2,590 goats were sold in a record 15 minutes during the Kimalel Goat Auction in December.

The event was attended by Deputy President William Ruto. President Uhuru Kenyatta paid Sh10 million for 1,000 goats. Uhuru was represented by Ruto.

Farmers expected lump sum payments. But that is not the case. Sixty farmers who spoke to the Star yesterday said they were left with meagre earnings after NHIF deductions.

Each farmer contributes Sh6,000 for the cover.

The amount is their annual premium. It was to be deducted from the cash from the goat auction.

They said the deduction was unnecessary. “I was expecting Sh10,000 after selling my one goat,” Johnstone Chelal said. He had hoped to use the cash to pay school fees.

Chelal said his deductions were erroneous because he had already enrolled in the NHIF cover.

He works as a support staffer in a secondary school in Saimo-Soi ward in Baringo North. “I thought only farmers without the medical cover were targeted but I surprisingly got myself in the mix,” he said.

Chelal received Sh2,700 after the NHIF deduction and bank charges.

Governor Stanley Kiptis earlier said nobody will block the enrollment of the farmers in NHIF.

He was responding to Bartabwa MCA Reuben Chepsongol who called for the withdrawal the idea. Chesongol said the deductions will scare away goat farmers from the auction.

Charles Chesunto and Philip Muter from Kipchere and Kapkuikui villages said they will oppose the deductions.

“We’ve taken our grievances to the county government but they keep telling us that they will look into the matter,” Chesunto said.

“I can do some irrigation farming and plant tomatoes and watermelons to pay my family’s NHIF, rather than taking my goats to Kimalel and later being forced to give in to the scheme” Muter said.

He said he had other pressing concerns like providing food to his family and paying school fees.

Agriculture and Livestock executive Richard Rotich said they had carried out many sessions to inform the farmers of the need to be enrolled in the cover.

“We are just beginning the idea so we expect the resistance but with time our farmers will understand,” Rotich said.