A major showdown is looming between maize farmers in North Rift and the government next week over non-payment of Sh3.5 billion for the produce delivered to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots in January.
In a charged meeting held at the Teachers Advisory Centre in Eldoret town on Monday, the farmers resolved to hold daily demonstrations to demand their dues.
The farmers, drawn from Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet and Nandi counties said they will not relent in their quest to be paid for the maize delivered.
Led by a leading cereals farmer in Uasin Gishu, Kimutai Kolum, they also asked the government to re-open NCPB depots across the country to enable them to take their maize for storage.
Kolum asked government to lift the suspension of maize purchase programme to save their produce from going to waste.
He said the most hit by the suspension are large-scale farmers whose crop has been attacked by pests because of lack of proper storage facilities in the wake of lack of market for the produce.
“We have more than 500,000 bags of maize in our stores which are on the verge of going to waste and we urge the government to urgently lift the suspension it imposed on buying of the cereal,” said Kolum.
Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo challenged the government to fulfil its last week’s pledge to clear dues owed to maize farmers.
“When we met the National Assembly Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture members last week, they assured us the money owed to farmers would be paid in three days but a week down the line, nothing is forthcoming,” said Menjo, who led the farmers’ representatives to Nairobi.
The government set aside Sh7.1 billion for purchase of 2.4 billion bags of maize but it ended up exceeding the target after unscrupulous traders imported cheap maize which they sold to NCPB at the expense of genuine harvest.