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December 14, 2018

Farmers to hold crisis talks over Sh5 billion maize debt

Moiben MP Silas Tiren with Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar during a meeting at Chapkanga on Tuesday /MATHEWS NDANYI
Moiben MP Silas Tiren with Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar during a meeting at Chapkanga on Tuesday /MATHEWS NDANYI

North Rift maize farmers will hold a crisis meeting next week to deliberate on the government’s failure to include their Sh5 billion debt in the budget.

The government has not paid for maize delivered to the National Cereals and Produce Board for months.

Farmers had been promised payment in the next three months.  The exclusion of the cash from the 2018-2019 budget has left farmers worried.

Moiben MP Silas Tiren on Tuesday said Parliament had factored  the payment in the budget.

“The figure was suddenly reduced to Sh1 billion and now, it is nowhere in the budget. It is a crisis because farmers may not be paid,” Tiren said. 

Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo on Wednesday said the meeting, to be held in Eldoret, will decide the next move for farmers.

Farmers have previously protested delayed payments.

Deputy President William Ruto last month promised the government will settle outstanding payments.

Ruto accused some politicians of inciting farmers against the state.

Tiren, who spoke at Chepkanga in his constituency, said he was ready to pay the political price for defending farmers.

The MP has differed with allies of Ruto over the payments. Tiren told his constituents not to re-elect him if they felt he had underperformed.

“I will speak the truth and if that means losing my job, then I’m ready for it provided the plight of farmers will be better,” Tiren said.

The lawmaker said he was not bitter at being ousted from the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture.

Jubilee MPs voted him out after he ignored orders by the Jubilee Party hierarchy to resign.

“That is not an issue because they only took away the position and not my mouth,” Tiren said. 

He said it was unfortunate the government was ready to spend billions to import maize, but could not pay farmers.

Tiren, who was with Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar, said leaders were not taking the plight of farmers seriously.

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