Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
Farmers in maize growing areas now want Parliament to intervene and save National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) from being turned into a “brokers’ paradise”.
They said, to deal a mortal blow to the cartels reaping where they have not sowed, the board should be compelled to make public all deliveries.
Appearing before the Departmental Committee on Agriculture, the farmers from North Rift region claimed in the latest maize scam, some traders delivered as many as seven lorries of maize in a single day while genuine farmers were kept waiting for more than a week to deliver their produce.
Led by Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) director Kipkorir Menjo, they accused rogue board staffers of working with the cartels to allow delivery of illegally imported maize to NCPB silos.
“We ask you to tell the cereals board to give details of all maize deliveries in silos across the country, who delivered the produce, and where their sources are,” said Menjo adding illegal maize imports from Uganda and Mexico were impoverishing local farmers.
“Some of this maize does not go through the normal checks and this has seen NCPB receive Ugandan maize disguised as Kenyan maize,” said Menjo.
Another farmer, Kimutai Kollum said the board had created a special queue for the special traders and farmers to have their own queue which took over a week to have the produce delivered.
“There are two queues; the one on the right hand side is for the traders who are known by the top officials, while the queue on the left is for farmers who are issued with numbers,” he said.
And immediately the meeting was over, Kwanza MP Ferdinand Wanyonyi said the committee was investigating the claims but said there is need for an audit to determine the quantities available in the country.
“We are very serious in what we are doing as far as maize farming is concerned. We need to be able to know the amount of shortfall that we have,” he said.
The move comes after State Department for Crops Development Permanent Secretary Richard Lesiyampe revealed that 18 individuals were paid more than Sh2 billion in one month to supply maize to the board.