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January 21, 2019

Depots shut, won’t take cheaper Uganda maize

A section of the NCPB silos that are packed with maize stocks in Eldoret
A section of the NCPB silos that are packed with maize stocks in Eldoret

The government on Thursday ordered the National Cereals and Produce Board to stop any further maize intake from farmers in Rift Valley.

Agriculture Secretary Kello Harsame said NCPB was overwhelmed following mass importation of cheap maize from Uganda.

Harsame says the board has exceeded its limits after some farmers delivered up to 90,000 bags each yet they did not harvest the same quantities from its farms. Lorries ferrying maize have been blocked from joining long queues outside NCPB depots in Eldoret, Ziwa, Kitale and Mois Bridge.

The cereals board, located in Eldoret, owes the farmers Sh5 Billion for maize deliveries since December.

 “Any farmer or anyone who still has maize should not bring it to NCPB until further notice. We will not accept any more maize until we get further communication from treasury on the availability of funds to buy more maize”, Harsame said.

More than 350 lorries were lining outside the NCPB depots but maize owners were being vetted to confirm if they are genuine farmers before their produce was accepted.

“We have spent billions buying the maize that has already been taken in but we feel what is happening is strange because we have not had cases where individual farmers deliver up to 90,000 or 50,000 bags each”, Harsame said.

He said some farmers or traders imported cheap maize from Uganda to sell it to the board at higher prices. The maize in Uganda is being bought at Sh 1,800 per bag yet NCPB is paying sh 3,200 for the same 90kg bag.

The board has far bought about 5 million bags of maize at a cost of more than sh 13 Billion. The decision by the government to announce that it would buy all maize from farmers caused traders to take advantage by importing extra maize from Uganda.

The government also made a decision to allow importation of more than 6.5 million bags of maize from Uganda. The situation has led to NCPB stores being jammed with maize stocks and the board has informed the government that it can no longer take in any more maize after overstretching its capacity.

“We have already sealed off the queues of lorries at the NCPB and farmers should wait for any future communication”, said Harsame.





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