The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots are yet to start receiving maize from farmers following an earlier order by President Uhuru Kenyatta. On January 10, the president said NCPB would buy maize from farmers at Kshs. 2,500 for a 90kg bag. Yesterday, farmers in North Rift protested at the Eldoret NCPB depot. At least 150 lorries and tractors had lined up to deliver maize but they were not allowed in.
Director of the Kenya Farmers Association KipkorirMenjo complained: “The lies seem to have started again. We are wondering why the people in charge are not implementing the President’s order.” Menjo said that the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and the cereals board management should open the depots. The delay is unfair since farmers are supposed to start preparing for planting next month, he further observed.
NCPB’s acting managing director Albin Sang however said that the crisis would be averted since they have now received a green light to buy maize by the Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund (SFRTF). “Despite President Uhuru Kenyatta issuing a directive that we start buying maize, we were still waiting to be allowed to do so by SFRTF which liaises with the National Treasury for funds allocation,” he stated.
SFRTF board chairman Dr Noah Wekesa, who was in Eldoret on Saturday, promised farmers the depots would be opened up this week. “We are preparing to start buying maize in an orderly manner so as not to repeat past mistakes,” Wekesa said.
The NCPB will buy only two million bags of maize from farmers. The board is still holding more than 3.5 million bags purchased last year and most of its stores are full.
“We should agree on how this stock will be sold. If millers get 1.7 million bags from the NCPB, yet the board will buy only two million bags from farmers, where will the other 16 million bags of maize be taken?” Mandago asked.
The board will open 15 centres in high production areas, which include Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and Nandi. Agriculture experts are warning that the recurrence of army worms in the maize growing regions will compromise national food security.