AGRICULTURAL TRADE

Congratulate Omtatah for saving SFR board

In Summary

• In May the government wound up the Strategic Food Reserve after five years of successful and profitable operation

• In June activist Okiya Omtatah succeeded in getting the High Court to overrule the government decision

Maize stocked in Kitale NCPB depot
FULL STORE: Maize stocked in Kitale NCPB depot
Image: FILE

Activist Okiya Omtatah is often viewed as a gun for hire. Whatever his motives, he has now done something very good. He has rescued the Strategic Food Reserve Oversight Board.

The SFROB was set up with capital of Sh2.2 billion in 2015 to trade maize and other agricultural produce. The SFROB successfully discharged its mandate, paying farmers on time, trading profitably and building up a war chest of Sh10 billion in its Central Bank account.

Then in May this year the government decided that the National Cereals and Produce Board, a parastatal with a history of making catastrophic losses, should take over the functions and assets of the SFROB. The suspicion was that government and the NCPB just wanted to get their hands on the Sh10 billion in the Central Bank account.

Omtatah went to court and in June a judge suspended the order to wind up the SFROB. Now the Agriculture ministry has requested the board to resume operations.

If it is allowed to operate freely, the SFROB will pay all pending bills and revitalise the new Warehouse Receipts system. Omtatah is to be congratulated.

Quote of the day: "People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them."

James Baldwin
The African-American novelist died on December 1, 1987