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Relief as State approves pay for genuine maize farmers

Genuine maize farmers, who delivered maize to National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) last season can sigh with relief after the government approved payment of their dues.

This is after the government completed a verification exercise which started in August to ascertain genuine farmers, who should receive payment for the 2017/18 season.

Devolution Cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa on Friday said his ministry released Sh1.4 billion last week to the Agriculture Ministry for disbursement.

Complaints had emerged over previous payments, which reportedly favoured traders at the expense of genuine maize farmers, a situation that informed the verification exercise.

Wamalwa said out of 1,154 farmers who collected claim forms, only 1,140 returned them and 900 were vetted and cleared for payment.

Consequently, the CS said 226 claims have been referred to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for further investigations.

“The verification report has been handed over to the Agriculture ministry to facilitate payment of farmers. Verification followed claims that some previous payments favoured some traders at the expense of genuine farmers,” he said.

The Sh1.4 billion is part of the Sh3.5 billion the government owes farmers, but Wamalwa assured them that all dues would eventually be paid.

He said farmers are yet to receive their payment because the Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund (SFRTF), under the Agriculture ministry, had a quorum hitch since terms of some members had expired.

However, the fund has since been gazetted and the term for board members renewed and, together with NCPB, the team will meet on Monday to process the payments.

National Treasury Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich appointed Abass Maalim, Susan Wairimu and Gerald Musila as members of SFRTF oversight board for three years, effective September 21.

Earlier this week, farmers had urged Senators to intervene and help them get their cash while earlier in the year, farmers, who supply maize to Nakuru NCPB, threatened to withdraw their services citing discrimination. 

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