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January 22, 2019

Senate plans to meet public, governors over maize crisis

Uasin Gishu Senator Prof Margaret Kamar and Bomet senator  Christopher Langat  on January 10,2018.Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE
Uasin Gishu Senator Prof Margaret Kamar and Bomet senator Christopher Langat on January 10,2018.Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE

The Senate will hold a public hearing on the maize crisis in Eldoret where farmers are still waiting to be paid Sh3.5 billion for deliveries made since last year.

All the senators will be in Eldoret between September 23 and 28 for the first-ever Senate sitting outside Nairobi.

Uasin Gishu senator Margaret Kamar says they will hold a public hearing and meet county executives for agriculture from the North Rift and Western regions.

Kamar is chairing the ad hoc committee of the Senate appointed to look into the maize crisis.

“We will get views from the public and other leaders on the maize crisis so we come up with a report,” she said.

Governors from the region, led by Uasin Gishu’s Jackson Mandago, will also meet the senators over the maize crisis.

Last week, the government failed yet again to pay maize farmers who have been vetted at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).

The board put off the payments until this week when vetting of all farmers is expected to be completed.

Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa had said the farmers were to receive Sh1.4 billion from last Friday, but the payments were put on hold until all the farmers are vetted.

Read: Senate ad-hoc committee to probe Sh1.9bn NCPB scandal

More than 2,000 farmers have so far been vetted mostly in the Rift Valley region and NCPB officials said the payments may be done after next week. “Farmers are yet to receive any payments as promised and many of them are still waiting for the government to keep its pledge,” Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo said.

Corporate affairs manager at the NCPB, Titus Maiyo, said the vetting of farmers is going on smoothly.

Teams from the Agriculture ministry, the EACC, the DCI, the NIS and other departments will resume the vetting at the NCPB depots from today.

Wamalwa has directed they speed up the process for the farmers to be paid. The board owes the maize farmers and traders more than Sh3.5 billion, but only Sh1.4 billion has been released by Treasury.

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

Read: Devolve NCPB operations to protect farmers – governors

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 vetting is aimed at ensuring that traders do not take up the payments meant for genuine farmers.

Two weeks ago, Agriculture PS Richard Lesiyampe, former NCPB boss Newton Terer and other maize traders were charged over the scam.

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

Also See: Farmers to hold crisis talks over Sh5 billion maize debt

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