Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
Senators yesterday directed Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) to carry out tests on the Sh8.05 billion maize that is yellowing at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) silos within 14 days.
They told the CS and NCPB officials to collect samples of maize in the Strategic Grain Reserve at the State corporation to confirm whether it is fit for human consumption.
The senators who sit in the ad hoc committee investigating maize crisis in the country said apart from the tests conducted by officers from Public Health, there is need for Kebs to also carry out independent tests of the NCPB warehouses to determine if they are safe. Led by chairperson Margret Kamar, the senators regretted that NCPB had turned into a monster that has failed Kenyans in terms of service delivery.
“NCPB is a monster which no one wants to be held to account over it. There is need for it to be re-looked,” she said. Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni said there is a need for Kebs to also test the samples, adding that the notion the task only belongs to Public Health Department is not justifiable as NCPB is a public entity.
“CS we have given you 14 days to carry out the tests and give us feedback so that by the time we are compiling the report we have the results,” he said.
Munya who assured the members that he will table the results, said they need 14 days as testing of the samples alone will take seven days.
Earlier, the CS had told the committee that the work of Kebs is to only to do random sampling and testing of goods imported at the border points to determine whether they meet the required standards.
“We will table all the results to you but the challenge we are having right now is accessing all the warehouses to get the sample. The 14 days will be fine for us because testing alone tales seven days,” he said.
Attempts by the Acting Kebs managing director Bernand Nguyo to have the matter probed by the public health department were not successful as the senators insisted that the standards body conduct the tests.
The sentiment by the committee came just a day after top officials of NCPB told them that maize worth Sh8.05 billion yellowing at the boards silos is likely to go to bad if it is not disposed of.
The officials said that unless drastic action is taken to either sell the maize or move it from NCPB – which is currently storing them on behalf of the Strategic Grain Reserve – the entire maize will go to waste.
NCPB Acting managing director Albin Sang told the Senators that the maize in the silos turned yellow after it stayed for more than six months yet their silos cannot hold maize for longer than that.
The move came even as Munya differed with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture on the entry of maize from the neighbouring countries Uganda and Tanzania.