- A 90kg bag will thus be bought for Sh2,610
- NCPB managing director Joseph Kimote said they initially planned to buy 500,000 bags of the 50kg, but the board will now review the purchase.
The National Cereals and Produce Board has opened its depots to start maize purchases from farmers at Sh1,305 per 50kg bag.
A 90kg bag will thus be bought at Sh2,610.
NCPB managing director Joseph Kimote said they initially planned to buy 500,000 bags of the 50kg, but the board will now review the purchase at depots in major producing areas over time.
“We will review based on the available resources,” he said, adding that the purchase was part of its commercial stocks to be bought on a willing buyer willing seller basis.
The NCPB released a circular on the opening of the depots as farmers' representatives in the North Rift met in Eldoret.
They immediately rejected the price and demanded not less than Sh1,700 per 50kg bag.
Moiben MP Sila Tiren, who is also the chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, met with the farmers' representatives. They urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene.
Tiren said the price must be set with consideration to the cost of farming. He said the President should direct the NCPB to increase the prices and buy not less than two million bags from farmers in the region.
“For farmers to be at least comfortable and get back their costs of production, the price per 50kg bag should not be less than Sh1,700,” Tiren said.
The NCPB, however, said it was using its own commercial funding, not money from the government, to buy maize.
“The price we have offered is what we can manage at the moment,” Kimote said.
Tiren said maize production was reducing every year because of challenges experienced by farmers, especially poor prices and lack of markets.
Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo said they had suggested to the government several ways of reducing the cost of production for farmers.
The farmers want reintroduction of subsidies on fertiliser and zero-rating of farm implements by the government.
“We also want policies that will ensure we produce at costs that will enable us to compete with farmers from neighbouring countries,” Menjo said.
Another representative, David Kiprono Kiberenge, accused Agriculture CS Peter Munya of neglecting farmers.
“It's harvesting time and the government is not saying anything about farmers, yet we know the country is facing food shortages in many regions,” he said.
He warned that the country’s food security was at stake because of farmers being neglected.
Tiren said the cost of production was a major hindrance to food production in the country and that agriculture cannot be mechanised with the high costs of farm implements.
He said the cereals board should take over roles played by the disbanded Strategic Food Reserves board that had accumulated more than Sh12 billion in its reserve accounts.
The MP also questioned the source of maize being distributed in counties that face famine, lamenting that maize from farmers in the Noth Rift had not been purchased.
-Edited by SKanyara