The Uasin Gishu government will support farmers to set up three major maize milling plants to ease marketing problems.
The milling plants will cost about Sh2 billion. The farmers will be supported through cooperative groups. Governor Jackson Mandago on Monday said maize farming has turned into a wasteful, unprofitable and frustrating venture.
He said his government is pursuing several options, including the maize milling plants and crops diversification, so farmers can reduce maize production by more than 50 per cent.
“We have already started educating farmers on diversification and even distributing seedlings for alternative crops depending on where particular crops can perform well,” Mandago said.
The governor said maize growing remains the main economic activity in the region but farmers must practice modern farming to increase their income.
“My government is passionate about the cooperatives movement. Some of the cooperatives are well-established and we can use them to set up milling plants,” Mandago said.
The governor spoke when he hosted East African Affairs CS Adan Mohammed, CAS Ken Obura, and PS Susan Koech. The CS was in the county on a familiarisation tour.
Maize prices have dropped to as low as Sh800 a bag as the government faces yet another crisis with farmers because money has not been set aside for the NCPB to buy the produce from next month.
Farmers are demanding that the government buys their maize at Sh3,200 per bag.
The NCPB is currently paying out Sh1.4 billion released last week by the state for the maize farmers.
“We have paid all the small-scale farmers owed about Sh2 million and below,” Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa said.
He said the payments are going on well and the government will ensure those who delivered their maize are paid.
A majority of the farmers said they had received their money.
“We are happy the payments have been done but we need clear planning in the sector or there would be an even bigger crisis in the near future,” Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo said.