Maize farmers to be paid Sh1.4bn from tomorrow
CS Kiunjuri says growers to receive cash for deliveries made to NCPB from last year in October
Maize farmers will from tomorrow start receiving payments amounting to Sh1.4 billion for deliveries made to the cereals board between October 2017 and April 2018, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri has said.
He said the delay was caused by lack of funds, ongoing verification of the farmers and incapacitation of the Board of Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) that is supposed to make the payments.
“We were not able to pay our farmers because the maize that was brought to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) exceeded the amount of money budgeted. And therefore it was compulsory for the government to go through the budget system and then allocate the funds for us to be able to pay the farmers,” said Mr Kiunjuri.
Speaking at Kiamuiru Catholic Church in Nyeri, the CS explained that the board, which is supposed to make the payments, was not fully constituted by then.
The board's term was renewed last week through a gazette notice.
Mr Kiunjuri said by the end of next week, all the verified farmers who supplied their produce to the government will have been paid their dues.
He said the verification exercise is still ongoing, and is expected to be completed in a two-week's time to enable the government clear the debts.
Last month, Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe, NCPB Eldoret silo manager Renson Korir and six other officials were charged over a Sh6 billion scandal after suspicious payments were made to some farmers.
Mr Kiunjuri said a committee made of officials from the board and the ministry will be formed to agree on how much the government will buy maize for storage in the forthcoming rainy season.
“Bumper harvest is expected and we are also expecting favourable weather conditions. December will be raining through January, February and March, and therefore we expect stability in terms of food. The cost of food should continue to go down,” said Mr Kiunjuri.
He added that there is abundant harvest and the country is not about to experience any shocks from weather or anything that can make food prices to go up.
Mr Kiunjuri stated that the board is selling maize to millers at Sh1,600, adding that traders should also lower the price of a two-kilogram maize flour packet to Sh75. He warned traders against exploiting consumers by hiking prices.
“We buy the maize at a higher cost and sell to the millers at a lower cost. For example, this time round we have offered maize to the millers at Sh1,600 and Sh1,500. We bought it at Sh3,200 because maize has a shelf life. We expect to always hold maize for 24 months and we have market stabilisers,” said Mr Kiunjuri.
At the same time, the CS warned traders selling maize flour at exorbitant prices that they will be arrested and prosecuted.
The CS said there is no negotiation concerning his announcement made last week that the two kilogram packet should retail at Sh75 in a move intended to protect consumers from exploitation.
“There is no discussion about this directive and those who go against it will face the law. We will not allow Kenyans to be exploited by millers and traders,” Mr Kiunjuri said during the Meru Dairy Cooperative Union farmer s' day.
This comes even is even as farmers in the North Rift said fixing the prices might destabilise the local market, resulting in a decline in farm gate prices
But Mr Kiunjuri maintained that lower maize prices should be reflected in flour prices, saying the only way to protect consumers from exploitation by millers and traders was to set the price of maize flour. “There is no way the price of unga can remain the same when millers buy a bag of maize at Sh2,800, and now when it is going for Sh1,600,” he said.
On milk production, the CS said the government is keen on providing cooling storage facilities in the country
“Milk is a very sensitive product that goes bad fast if not properly cooled. This problem has led to an unacceptable post-harvest losses estimated at 6 per cent. To mitigate against this and improve the quality, the national government, with the support of Polish Government is distributing milk coolers to different parts of the country,” he said.
He said six more coolers would be provided to Meru farmers in addition to the 16 that had already been installed. In Tharaka Nithi, 16 coolers have also been installed.
Police in Maara are holding a man who reportedly murdered his younger brother by slitting his throat using a panga (machete) at Kianjuki village yesterday. Area OCPD Johnston Kabusia said the deceased, Benson Musimi, succumbed to injuries soon after he was attacked by his elder brother, Anthony Mwenda. Mr Kabusia said police were yet to establish what led to the attack but residents have cited a long time domestic feud between the two.
Francis Kamau and David Macharia dry maize in Nyakinywa, Cherangany, Transnzoia County yesterday. They said a 90kg bag of the produce is going for Sh1,200.