Cereals agency bosses differ on maize quality

East Africa Exchange Quality and Assurance Officer Marion Waweru (left), National Cereals and Produce Board Chairman Geoffrey King’ang’i (centre) and board officials at the Eldoret Depot. The NCPB bosses have given contradicting statements on the quality of maize in their silos. (PHOTO: KEVIN TUNOI/ STANDARD)
The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) bosses have given contradicting statements on the quality of maize in their silos.

While the board’s Managing Director Newton Terer maintained that there are over 400,000 bags of bad maize in their stores, the chairman maintained that all their stored maize is fit for human consumption.

Mr Terer yesterday told Parliament the bad maize was part of four million bags that had been in the stores for eight years.

The MD was speaking before the Eldas MP Adan Keynan-led National Assembly Public Investment Committee.

Terer spoke as NCPD Chairman Geoffrey King’angi, during a visit to the Eldoret depot yesterday, said the board was keen on the quality, age of the grains and its discoloration, which he insisted were up to international standards for all the 2.7 million bags across the country.

“We want to assure the public that all the grains at our depots are good for consumption. Claims by millers that they are wet, of grade four and five and also contain afflatoxin are all false,” said the NCPB chairperson.

He added: “Our maize is properly stored, and we were able last year to mop up maize that had stayed for more than two years and sold it. What is at our stores is good and of the best grade,” said Mr Kinga’ngi.

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Swift decision

He said all the bags in their stores are constantly checked before being sold to the market and there is no way their grains could be unfit for consumption.

But the managing director told the MPs that the delay in disposing of the maize was caused by the trustees of the Strategic Maize Reserves who did not take a swift decision to recommend its release to the markets.

“Also, the delay in getting the authority to relocate maize from the silos, whose ideal storage period should not exceed six months, had led to damage due to high heat and poor aeration in the silos,” Mr Terer said.

Terer said the maize had stayed beyond the stipulated 24 months and the quality of the grain had deteriorated.

“For proper grain stock quality management, it is recommended that maize should not be held in silos for more than six months, and those in the conventional stores should be sold within 24 months. The Legal Notice 15 of 2015 that set up the Strategic Food Reserves (SFR) recognised the need for refreshing of the stocks and adopted the storage period,” said Terer.

He said the justification for the sale of the SFR maize stocks was based on age, and was arrived at through an age analysis carried out in August 2015 that indicated a total of 1.8 million bags had been in the stores for more than three years.

The NCPB boss told the committee that the institution had 2.2 million bags in its stores for SFR and allayed fears that there were no enough cereals to feed the country.

“There is no cause for alarm. We have about 10 million bags of maize in total across the country and this will take the country through the next three months and before then, grain from the South Rift will be ready for use,” said Terer.

But Chairman King’ang’i revealed the board had launched investigations into reports that the maize at the depots was unfit for human consumption.

“It is surprising that millers are quick to raise the alarm about afflatoxin yet they have not conducted any investigations. It is only NCPB that has the authority to do that,” he said.

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National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB)food securityagriculture