In Summary
  • The cost of flour is expected to rise following the expiry of the Sh8 billion maize subsidy programme.

  • The farmers said middlemen and millers were taking advantage of the EAC market protocol to import maize from Uganda.
  • Farmers are pressurising the government to buy the maize at competitive prices.

The government is once again in the spotlight as farmers protest the rise in cross-border trade in maize.

The cost of flour is expected to rise following the expiry of the Sh8 billion maize subsidy programme.

The farmers said middlemen and millers were taking advantage of the East African Community (EAC) market protocol to import maize from Uganda and hoard the produce to cause artificial shortages resulting in rise of prices.

GATE PRICES

Destabilising the market for the local maize produce resulting in decline in farm gate prices has put on the spot Deputy President William Ruto and outgoing Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett who hail from the region.

Meanwhile, farmers are pressurising the government to buy the maize at competitive prices.

Mr Ruto has in the past called on maize farmers to take advantage of Warehouse Receipting System offered by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to store their produce as they seek markets.

He said the system will empower farmers to compete “favourably in the EAC common market”.

“Agriculture forms our economic blood vein and the DP needs to address the issues affecting it in order to sustain it as a profitable investment,” said Mr Philip Too from Saos, Nandi County.

STRATEGIC GRAIN RESERVE

In order to address some of these issues, the government has allocated Sh7.1 billion to buy 2.4 million bags of the produce this year to replenish its strategic grains reserve stocks.

The deal is way above the Sh3,000 per 90kg bag it offered last year guaranteeing steady market for the farmers and acting as price stabiliser.

The government has further procured more than 168,000 tonnes of subsidised fertiliser valued at Sh5 billion to be distributed to farmers for the next planting season.

But, the farmers have expressed disappointment over delays in payment of their produce by NCPB to enable them to invest in the next crop.

“We have delivered our produce but the government has not honoured its pledge to make prompt payment for the crop,” said Mr Samuel Langat from Moiben, Uasin Gishu County.

PROMPT PAYMENT

The chairman of the National Assembly’s Agriculture committee and Moiben MP Silas Tiren has promised to take up the matter with Mr Bett.

“The last time we had a meeting with the CS it was agreed that a farmer is paid within 24 hours of delivery which has not been honoured,” said Mr Tiren. The NCPB had early this week bought 1.6 million bags of maize worth Sh5.1 billion as it waits funds from the government to settle the rest of the payments.

“We shall be making payments for the maize as we receive funds from the government,” said Mr Titus Maiyo, the NCPB corporate affairs manager.

The farmers have, however, said delay in payment was giving brokers room to profit by hoarding the produce to cause artificial shortage in the market.

BROKERS

“Some of these brokers enjoy protection from influential personalities in the government who are out to profit from the projected maize shortage,” said Mr David Kosgey from Waitaluk, Trans-Nzoia County.

Kenya Farmers Association Director, Uasin Gishu chapter, Kipkorir arap Menjo faulted the government for not putting in place measures to ensure that farmers get value for their hard work.

Page 1 of 2