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January 21, 2019

Farmers thank Uhuru for Sh2,500 maize price directive, urge state to double purchase

NCPB workers inspecting old maize stocks at the NCPB in Eldoret. /FILE
NCPB workers inspecting old maize stocks at the NCPB in Eldoret. /FILE

Farmers have welcomed President Uhuru Kenyatta's directive to the NCPB to open it's depots and buy maize at Sh2,500 per bag.

The farmers had rejected the Sh2,300 price per bag announced by the government in November last year.

Representatives, led by Christopher Kolum and Kipkorir Menjo, have, however, said farmers want four million bags bought rather than two million.

"Farmers have harvested more maize this year and the government should buy more maize so that middlemen do not exploit producers," Kolum said.

Uhuru ordered the NCPB to immediately start purchase, but ensure it does so only from genuine farmers after vetting.

Menjo said Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia alone had produced more than 10 milion bags and farmers would lack markets if the government only buys two milion bags.

He said payments by the board should also be prompt to ensure there are no arrears.

"We have farmers who delivered maize last year and are yet to be paid. They should be given the money as soon as possible," Menjo said.

He said the NCPB should also consider paying farmers a rebate of Sh500 to cater for costs of transport to buying centres.

The farmers also want the NCPB to open many buying centres, especially in rural areas.

"This will enable the farmers to easily access the buying centres and hence cut on cost of transport," Kolum said.

Farmers have also welcomed the move by the NCPB to repossess its stores which had been hired out to private individuals and millers.

The NCPB ordered millers, who had hired out the stores for more than 10 years, to vacate on Wednesday after the expiry of a one-month notice.

Read: Eldoret millers protest order to vacate NCPB stores

The board's stores in Eldoret, Kitale and Moi's Bridge and other areas are packed with more than 3.5 milion bags of maize bought under the Strategic Grain Reserve programme.

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