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

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - NATIONAL NEWS - BY JOSEPH WAN­GUI

jwan­gui@ke.na­tion­media.com

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.

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