• Kipkorir Menjo, director of the Kenya Farmers Association, said members are still in the dark about how the warehouse receipt system will benefit them.
• Menjo told the Star on Wednesday that farmers have a lot of questions that need answers if they are to embrace the system.
Many farmers do not know how the warehouse receipt system being implemented by the Agriculture ministry to take grain from them works.
Kipkorir Menjo, director of the Kenya Farmers Association, said members are still in the dark about how the warehouse receipt system will benefit them.
Menjo told the Star on Wednesday that farmers have a lot of questions that need answers if they are to embrace the system.
The concerns have been raised as the Warehouse Receipt System Council hastens efforts for a pilot WRS for the October maize harvest.
Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga confirmed that there is still lack of information on the warehouse receipt system amongst farmers. But the ministry has advised the council to educate farmers, he said.
“We want to be able to move to this modern and more civilised way of doing grain trade which even neighbouring countries like Rwanda and Ethiopia are doing. I think the main domain of the council is to operationalise this by working with the operators and educating all those involved in the value chain,” Boga said.
He added, “But the most important thing is that there will be some warehouses that have already been inspected and certified and will be directed on how now to engage.”
Menjo said farmers should be educated about the process before the warehouse receipt regulations are gazetted.
“The system has been adopted by large scale farmers in other countries but in Kenya, it will also be used by small scale farmers hence the need to sensitise them. This will help farmers understand how the concept is going to run, challenges and how they will benefit from the system,” he said.
Jane Ngige, chair of the WRS council, said they are aware of inaccurate information in the public that is causing anxiety among stakeholders, especially farmers.
“I wish to assure the Cabinet Secretary, stakeholders and general public that the council has prepared a communication and outreach plan for vigorous awareness, sensitisation and education of the value chain actors and the general public on the benefits of the WRS,” she said on Tuesday during the virtual national validation forum of the WRS regulations.
Joseph Kamote, National Cereals and Produce Board managing director, said they have been sensitising the farmers they work closely with.
“But there is a need for a more organised way of communicating to the end-users so that people can get to know the new ways of doing things. We are committed to ensuring that by October we are set and already we have stores across the country which have earmarked for the WRS. This is a new concept and we cannot know everything outright from day one but we have to start from somewhere and improve as we go along,” he said.
Meanwhile, Boga has said negotiations to lease the National Cereals and Produce Board warehouses are underway.
Boga said the warehouse receipt system will be implemented through privatised silos.
“We don’t want these silos to be a government business. We want it to be a private sector business,” Boga said in Nairobi on Wednesday.
He said that the reason for privatising the warehouses is to make NCPB have a trading division on private sector terms so that they can provide services to the farmers.
The government will step back and create an enabling environment for the private sector to operate smoothly, which will be better for farmers, he said.
He cautioned that the reforms are likely to take time, but he asked for patience from all the stakeholders.
“This has been tested and proven to work in many countries, and given that Kenya has a very vibrant private sector, this is achievable,” Boga said.