Winstone Chiseremi @Wchiseremi
North Rift maize farmers have resolved that they will only sell their products to the government through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) on condition it purchases them at Sh 2,300 per 50 kg a bag.
The threat comes in the wake of an anticipated harvest of about 40 million bags of maize in the region in the next two months.
At a charged consultative meeting held at Teachers Advisory Centre in Eldoret, the farmers said they will not accept the new product price that was arrived at by the Strategic Food Reserve Board.
Led by Jackson Kwambai and Kimutai Kolum, both large-scale farmers in the region, also threatened to turn into animal feeds this year’s maize harvests should the government stick to its stand to purchase their produce at Sh2,300 per 90kg bag.
The farmers were drawn from maize-growing counties of Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Nandi and Elgeyo Marakwet and part of the Western region.
According to Kwambai, the new maize prices will not stabilise the market as claimed by the government but will instead kill the agriculture sector which is the main economic activity of residents in the region.
“It is very discouraging for the government to offer maize farmers a lower price for their produce when they are expecting bumper harvest this season without even factoring in the cost of production,” he said.
To compound the matter, he said, most farmers in the region were still holding 500,000 bags of maize in their stores from last year’s harvest due to lack of market for the produce.
Kolum said the government should be inviting representatives from the farming community across the country to get their input when determining the price of their products as a sign of good faith.
“What the government is doing now is like telling the farmers not plant maize next season and this is another loophole for cartels and traders to import the product from other countries,” he said.
Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo has told maize farmers in the region to hold on to this season’s harvest until they agree with the government on new prices.