Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) yesterday revealed how Sh11.3 billion used to buy maize from farmers was shared out by rogue traders and National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) employees.
EACC top officials told a Senate Select committee that the suppliers presented fake verification forms.
EACC deputy director in charge of North Rift Jackson Mue told the committee investigating the maize scandal that majority of the suppliers paid were not genuine farmers.
“Most of the suppliers were facilitated by insiders within the NCPB depots,” he said.
Out of the 10,636 suppliers who delivered their maize, 146 were paid Sh4.5 billion, leaving the other 10,490 to share out the remaining Sh6.8 billion. And even then, the 10,490 genuine farmers never received their money.
Of the 146, twenty suppliers were paid Sh2.5 billion for maize imported from Uganda. The committee also heard how a family supplied maize worth Sh746 million and was immediately paid despite the board facing financial challenges.
“There is a problem with the whole maize supply chain. Some traders exploited the loopholes in this chain and were able to get preferential treatment,” Mue told members.
Also appearing before the committee, EACC commissioner Mwaniki Gachoka said the anti-graft commission opened investigations into the matter following an outcry by farmers in March.
He also revealed that although NCPB has 10 depots spread across the country, 73 per cent of the Sh11.3 billion was allocated to just six depots for the purchase of the maize. Eldoret, Moi’s Bridge, Ziwa, Kitale, Bungoma and Kisumu collectively received Sh8.3 billion, while the remaining 105 depots were allocated a measly Sh3 billion.
EACC chairperson Eliud Wabukala said the operations of the NCPB are being hampered by weak systems.
Devolution Cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa told the committee that vetting and verification of the farmers who delivered maize to NCPB will be completed this weekend.
He said payment of the Sh 1.4 billion set aside by the government will start once verification is concluded.