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February 19, 2019

NCPB vets farmers for Sh1.4bn payout under EACC scrutiny

Farmers representatives led by Moira Chepkok and Moiben MP Sila Tiren after a meeting in Eldoret on August 26 /MATHEWS NDANYI
Farmers representatives led by Moira Chepkok and Moiben MP Sila Tiren after a meeting in Eldoret on August 26 /MATHEWS NDANYI

More than 1,500 farmers have so far been vetted by the National Cereals and Produce Board, which will this week start paying out Sh1.4 billion released by Treasury.

Another 1,000 farmers are expected to be vetted this week after they filled forms with details required by the government to enable them receive the payments.

The money has been  withheld since December last year.

The EACC, National Security Intelligence Service and the DCI have deployed officers at the NCPB depots to monitor the vetting and payments.

The farmers had rejected the vetting terming it cumbersome, but majority of them have now accepted to provide details which the government will use to remove cartels from accessing payments meant for genuine farmers.

The farmers have also welcomed the ongoing probe on graft at the board. Last week, Agriculture PS Richard Lesiyampe, former NCPB boss Newton Terer and other maize traders were charged over the scam.

“The government should move in more strongly to streamline the operations of the board and completely remove cartels that have frustrated farmers for many years,” Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo said.

Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa says the farmers who have been vetted will be paid starting Friday.

“The payments will be complete within 21 days and we will then request for more funds from the National Treasury to pay the remaining 39 per cent,” the CS said.

Managers at NCPB depots in Rift Valley said farmers must meet all the requirements before being paid.

Wamalwa ordered the scrutiny to remove brokers from the list of those to be paid, but farmers’ spokesman Francis Koech said all those who delivered maize must be paid.

Governors in the North Rift region have also petitioned the NCPB to ensure farmers are not frustrated and that the genuine ones who delivered their produce should not be left out.

This week, the EACC will also scrutinise accounts used by the NCPB to pay out more than Sh8 billion early this year.

An Eldoret court on Friday ordered the Central Bank of Kenya to allow the EACC scrutinise the accounts.

Chief magistrate Charles Obulutsa directed that EACC forensic investigators be allowed to probe bank accounts for the Strategic Grain Reserve Trust Fund held in various banks.

The accounts are suspected to have been used to pay out much of the money to traders at the expense of more than 3,500 farmers who missed out.

The EACC obtained the orders pursuant to an application by Richard Kilimo, who is a forensic investigator with the commission.

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